Radiohead do funny things to music critics. Each time they release a new record there’s a tornado of pseudo-smug intellectualisation and hyperbole that reeks of dinner parties and Richard Curtis movies. Witness a certain paper wondering whether they’ll save the music industry with their new album. Also witness the cavalcade of writers itching their tits off to get the first review of King of Limbs out after listening to it once, thesaurus at hand, trying to justify why they think it’s a masterpiece that’ll change the world or a hunk of shit that’s not as good as what they’ve done before blah blah blah.
We’re not like that here. We’re bone idle, mostly depressed and have the attention spans of people who’ve grown up with Michael Bay films, but we’re also honest, so you can rely on us not to be swept up in a tide of pretension or hype. We’re far too gauche and ebullient for that.
So I’ll spit it out. The King Of Limbs is lovely. It’s been on a constant loop in Chateau Pigeon. It’s not the coming of a new age, it’s not going to save the industry, and E.T isn’t going to come rocketing back to Earth to stop Elliot sniffing glue because of it. It’s just five lads from Oxford making the music they want to make, and they just so happen to make better music than everyone else. It’s a terse reminder (clocking in at under 40 minutes) of why they’re so beloved by many an aging whippersnapper.
Of the 8 tracks only 1 is a bit duff (Feral is 3 minutes of nothing really). The rest are delicate, minimal mish mashes of Neil Young esque balladry and glitch-pop. Highlights include Morning Mr Magpie, which recalls a minimalist Optimistic, with it’s mournful crooning and bluesy guitars. Also excellent is Lotus Flower, which is a mongy off kilter groover. Separator is probably the best though, and recalls the somnambulant gloominess of OK Computer. As with Kid A, people will listen to the record once and dismiss it, and then herald it as album of the year, come the time.
See I can do proper shitty music journalism.
Anyway, the continued success of Radiohead conforts me in some ways. Here’s a band doing what the hell they want, and no one will tell them otherwise. They’re just ambling away in a quaint village, making lovely glitchy pop songs, given clarity by Thom Yorke’s delicate falsetto and world weariness. They give no fuck.
It sounds like Radiohead basically. They’ve always sounded like Radiohead, and it confuses me when people think they stopped sounding like Radiohead. People cried that Kid A was commercial suicide and moaned that it didn’t sound like what they’d done before, but they’re talking out their heavily subbed arses. Kid A wasn’t an exercise in wild experimentation, it was 9 slightly odd pop songs and an ambient drone. And now here we are 10 years later, and some of those same people are now moaning that The King of Limbs is just the same old Radiohead. They can never make their minds up, especially when there’s a deadline. This is why you should never listen to critics. Myself included. In fact you shouldn’t listen to anyone really. Instead you should watch the amazing video they did for Lotus Flower. Dance Thom, dance.