Album Review: Radiohead – The King of Limbs

By on Friday, 25th February 2011 at 12:00 pm
 

Editor’s note: Natalie decided to take a different angle from the usual TGTF style of review. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Words by Natalie Stas

No-one else could do this, just them. When trying to review this album, all I can describe is the fact that I can’t, and that speaks volumes. I feel aggressive when I talk about it; I’m heartfelt and utterly protective over it. I’ve read other reviews but feel offended by those who have tried to dissect it. The day they released it, they clocks may as well have stopped, it could have been a bank holiday for all I knew. I didn’t know what to expect from it at first, I just knew I needed to dedicate my whole day to it. I achieved nothing other than making full use of the repeat function on my iTunes. If you are part of any social network, you know that the whole world was talking about Radiohead.

I have no ambition to become a musician, but it was completely inspiring to me that eight tracks can stop time for so many people on a global scale, and I don’t know of that many people who have that much power these days. To me it’s weird, crazy and brilliant all the same time, because the fact is I don’t know how they have done it in a music industry that is above anything else, a corporate business with standards and regulations coming out of its arse. But they have superseded any realm of commercial and created music that has, without even really trying, redefined what we ever knew about ‘cool’.

You’ll listen to this album once, and you won’t like it. You won’t know what to think because of all the hype, but the only thing that will make sense to you is the feeling that you need to persevere. And you do because it’s Radiohead, and it deserves no less. You listen to it again, and then again, and once more and you begin to crave it. You’ll wake up the next day and need to get a fix of ‘Lotus Flower’ (watch the video here). It’s bizarre and you won’t be able to describe it, and neither can I; it is just too much.

The melodies will grab you, but you won’t know why because you won’t get them at first, but they will demand your attention. There are so many levels and intricacies that I can’t possibly tackle, because this music draws parallels in the sophistication and intellect of classical composers. It is a difficult listen and you have to work hard to understand it, but when you do (and you will), it is stunning. It’s like a lily: when you see it for the first time, it is plain and boring and you can ignore it. But you keep it, water it and watch it grow because you know in a few days it will be something beautiful.

The best thing about this album is that Radiohead don’t care if you like their music or not. Criticism operates on a level that they just simply do not connect with because their sound is so much more than that. The fact is, the thing that makes this album so great is Radiohead’s sheer belief in what they are creating, and the guts they have in seeing it through. It actually becomes irrelevant how good the music is after that because what they have done becomes a statement of experimentalism that only life-changing artists could achieve. I don’t often associate music with money, but this time I did. It blows my mind that I paid just £6 to own this beautiful body of work. In truth, it is hard to attach any sort of monetary value to this, because what it creates in you is worth so much more.

Normally when you listen to new music, you can see the obvious route for how the musicians came up with the idea. You can tell if a song stemmed from an acoustic format, and make guesses as to how it was crafted thereafter. In rock ‘n’ rock, often a riff leads to a vocal, and a natural drum beats follows suit. But with Radiohead – and ‘The King of Limbs’ in particular – I have no clue how this began. Was it a lyric, or an atmosphere, or did it begin from Thom Yorke dancing like that?

My only guess is that is the offspring of the rare and beautiful relationship between Radiohead and producer Nigel Godrich. He is to them what George Martin was to the Beatles, and this album is testament to that. I could spend hours going into the depths of the complexities behind the drum beats, or how the effects open like envelopes but the truth is, I can’t even begin to describe this or what it all means. I don’t have the audacity to do so. Radiohead make classical music, and there’s not many bands up there with Mozart. I feel a fraud even trying to review it, because truthfully I am in complete awe. I don’t know how they have done this, but thank fuck they have.

Radiohead’s ‘The King of Limbs’ is available now, but unless you’ve been living under a rock, you already knew that.

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5 Responses

8:49 pm
25th February 2011

This is the best review i’ve read so far, and i’ve read many!
Most reviews just describe the individual tracks.
Limbs took me 8-10 listens before i started thinking that almost all the tracks could be very good! Little by little is the only one i’m unsure about atm (longterm wise), but the background tickering and slow buildup is starting to take a hold of me. For the record i pretty much like every RH track on every album (including pablo honey), but limbs is the first RH album i’ve been able to loop continuously for this many days non stop, so i’m guessing it’s a very good sign for how we’ll perceive it in 5 years time, even if it does remain 8 tracks???

6:48 pm
27th February 2011

I really like this review, but what the hell does TGTF mean???

1:32 pm
28th February 2011

TGTF = There Goes the Fear. it’s the name of our blog

6:15 pm
28th February 2011

Uh, my bad, that was pretty obvious, in fact.

I had checked the urban dictionary and wasn’t understanding. 😀

2:39 am
22nd August 2011

It’s Nigel GodRICH. Just sayin’.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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