Music Review: Radiohead’s King of Limbs
The initial sounds that come out of “The King of Limbs” make you think that this will be a continuation of Radiohead’s last record “In Rainbows.” It’s simply some sped-up keyboarding. However, this is a ruse, as it becomes a full-on electronic song.
In Radiohead’s eighth release, they very clearly are going for a dubstep sound. This is most evident in “Feral” which sounds much like how you’d think it would, with wild drums and
Thom Yorke’s voice coming in and out of the song producing indiscernible sounds.
It was probably stupid to think that this would be like the previous record as that is rarely the case with Radiohead.
Guitars do make appearances, most prominently in “Little by Little” and “Giving up the Ghost,” but for the most part, the focus is on electronic sounds and beats. It is more similar to “Kid A” and “Amnesiac,” but it still sounds unique to me.
The originality stops with the music, though, as the lyrics are typical Radiohead depression and disconnect. Though it’s possible for the music to cause you to ignore the words as it did to me the first few listens.
As usual, Yorke paints very scattered pictures in your mind and isn’t really interested in a strong cohesion; just imagery. I tend to like this and few bands do it better.
It’s understandable if this makes people dislike Radiohead because it can definitely get annoying. It took me several years to start liking the band and I think I only like them as much as I do now because I saw them live a few years back.
With that being said, I don’t think the lyrics are as strong in this record, save for a few instances. That may be because the focus was not as strong on the lyrics this time around, but that always makes me think less of a record.
The standout track is single “Lotus Flower.” Maybe you’ve seen Yorke dance oddly to it in the music video. Maybe you’ve also seen people put different music over the video, which is humorous and quite weird.
Anyway, everything about this song works for me. Yorke’s falsetto mixed with the bass underneath and the propulsive drums is perfect.
There’s great imagery in this song with “the moon upon a stick” and “slowly we unfurl as lotus flowers.” He of course mentions darkness and habit because this is a Radiohead song.
My least favorite song is “Codex” each time I hear it, I forget to listen to it and next thing I know, “Give up the Ghost” is playing. The song just really isn’t interesting to me.
“Ghost,” on the other hand, is. It has really grown on me. It is an appropriate title to say the least as his voice has specter tendencies to it.
Another interesting/weird/incomprehensible aspect of this album is that it’s called a newspaper album for some reason. I have heard several explanations about this. One, is that it is delivered like a newspaper and another is that due to the variety of things that you will get if you purchase the $48 version.
I don’t know. This could just be Radiohead being Radiohead. They’re just trying to do something odd with each release.
This is also a short record by Radiohead standards with eight songs clocking in at just over 37 minutes. I think Pitchfork believes it’s revolutionary or something.
Despite the shortness, I don’t think this is their most focused record. It doesn’t flow as well as my two favorite Radiohead records do, “In Rainbows” and “Kid A.” I honestly think that it sounds rushed to some degree.
Also, the album art is odd to say the least. There looks to be a couple amoebas with arms painted in some cave. Perhaps an ode to the title, though it is a reference to a giant tree in England. Maybe they could have just done that.
Even the album art can’t halt my overall enjoyment of the record. I will admit that it mainly inspires me to listen to “In Rainbows” and “Kid A” again, which I believe to be superior records.