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March 14, 2011 | by  | in Music |
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Radiohead – The King of Limbs

Like most of the good albums we listen to for the first time, The King Of Limbs takes many spins to get baked and in shape. The 37-minute LP—or should we refer it better more as an enhanced EP?—equates to something like a 10-minute-per-year-production, if we think of their previous release of In Rainbows back in 2007. This might be the first thing to shake our expectations, especially seeing that none of the 8 tracks goes for more than five and a half minutes. But as we know, quality is over quantity.

The album kicks in with ‘Bloom’, a low-tech, chiptune-drum rhythmic driven piece that is quite repetitive in all manners, which for the first seconds brings me back to ‘15 Step’, before failing to equate the groove. Little is there to say about ‘Morning Mr. Magpie’, apart from featuring the only prominent real bass guitar we get to listen to (with exception of ‘Separator’) and giving us more sequenced drums almost all the way through. Then comes ‘Little by Little’, which could have been easily taken out from the OK Computer sessions (especially the bass and guitar working together). For those techno lovers ‘Feral’ provides a good epileptic dose of busy intricate drums, a catchy synthy bass line to feed your pimped subs, and some trippy sampled vocals…

‘Lotus Flower’ finally provides a full-on Radiohead signature sound, kicking the second half of the album with some power beats, beautifully clear vocals, and a warm and analogue-crafted bass, quickly standing out of the rest of the songs. This was probably the first song we all heard, as its video clip was released on Radiohead’s official YouTube Channel the same day the album was made downloadable to the world, almost three weeks ago. ‘Codex’, which is to me the most beautiful song of the record, is a ballad that triggers some ‘No Surprises’ feelings, smoothing things out with ethereal, bright, morphing background sounds to perfectly create a setting for the piano and vocals. The two last in the repertoire, ‘Give Up the Ghost’ and ‘Separator’ are interesting songs that sound great, but which are quite static in their composition; the former being a mostly vocal piece which passes through inadvertently (I had to play it 3 times in a row to really notice it), whereas ‘Separator’ at least offers us with a beautiful strong bass that jumps around the rest of the instruments in a delightful way, together with some tight drums and dubbed John Lennon-style vocals.

Unfortunately, before you know it the album is over and your ears are asking for more. Half an hour is what we spend in an average bus ride, and a couple of good songs are not enough to keep our brains high in music. The King of Limbs is consistent in keeping the energy going, but with a strong, thriving-for-surprises fan base, and general high expectations, I think the album fails to meet the standards that this band set on their previous catalogues. I don’t want to go back to the late 90s, but if I take In Rainbows as a reference, then The King of Limbs feels more like an aftermath of a great gig. Although by no means just another regular album, I am left with a feeling of craving for more, of waiting for my dessert. Let’s hope there’s some high content compliment to this not-so-bold experiment coming soon!

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