Radiohead – The King of Limbs

by Alyssa Mastrocco (English), published February 21st 2011

Moldy | Stale | Edible | Fresh | Tasty!

Despite being my favorite band, I can’t say that I have ever enjoyed a Radiohead album on my first listen through. The King of Limbs has finally changed that.

Most fans know that there are three kinds of Radiohead. They’ve released straight rock albums, straight electronica albums and a few that fall between. The King of Limbs presents itself as a return to the Radiohead of OK Computer and Kid A. Influences from In Rainbows can still be heard, but now they’re mixed with the band’s roots in electronica.

The first two tracks, ‘€œBloom’€ and ‘€œMorning Mr. Magpie’€ reintroduce us to the Radiohead of old, harkening back to Kid A with the electronic sounds that can be heard underneath the instrumentation. Much of the rest of the album follows suit, but mellows out toward the end. Track six, ‘€œCodex’€ is an ethereal song with a beautiful horn and string section that fills out the ending. The vocal track is mixed at the same level as the instrumentation, adding to the delicate sound of the song.

Since last summer when we began hearing much of this material in its infancy, the songs have developed nicely, especially ‘€œGive Up the Ghost’€ and ‘€œSeparator.’€ ‘€œGive Up the Ghost’€ was one of the songs Thom introduced in his solo festival appearances. When playing it live, he began with a vocal loop, creating a layered harmony that his guitar soon followed. The band kept this same basic structure for the studio version, adding to it only minimally to clean it up. ’€œSeparator’€ closes the album on a strong note, returning to the upbeat electronica that the album began with and closing the circle.

At eight tracks, they still manage to make it sound complete. The King of Limbs is yet another Radiohead triumph.

Recommended Tracks: Morning, Mr. Magpie, Codex

  • Nathan

    It’s funny you should say that; in my mind, The King of Limbs was probably the least enjoyable first listen for me from their catalog (well, I haven’t ever actually listened to Pablo Honey as a whole, but that hardly counts).
    I feel like though there’s something to be said for some of the songs on there, it ends up feeling like a B-side collection rather than a real album.

  • Nathan

    It’s funny you should say that; in my mind, The King of Limbs was probably the least enjoyable first listen for me from their catalog (well, I haven’t ever actually listened to Pablo Honey as a whole, but that hardly counts).
    I feel like though there’s something to be said for some of the songs on there, it ends up feeling like a B-side collection rather than a real album.

  • http://twitter.com/conorcaldwell Conor Caldwell

    I’d have to agree with Nathan… I found this to be their least enjoyable album after first listen. I’ve listened to it a few more times since then, and it’s definitley a grower, but I’m still not convinced. I’m still a little upset about how short it is, although overall that doesn’t matter. While I don’t dislike a single track, and there are a few really great ones (for me “Little By Little”, “Lotus Flower” and “Codex”), the album still feels like a compilation. It’s not cohesive enough, I dont feel like it fits together as one whole body of work, like albums should (and theirs usually do). I like it, but I don’t love it.

  • http://twitter.com/conorcaldwell Conor Caldwell

    I’d have to agree with Nathan… I found this to be their least enjoyable album after first listen. I’ve listened to it a few more times since then, and it’s definitley a grower, but I’m still not convinced. I’m still a little upset about how short it is, although overall that doesn’t matter. While I don’t dislike a single track, and there are a few really great ones (for me “Little By Little”, “Lotus Flower” and “Codex”), the album still feels like a compilation. It’s not cohesive enough, I dont feel like it fits together as one whole body of work, like albums should (and theirs usually do). I like it, but I don’t love it.

  • Anonymous

    That’s Interesting that you two say that. I am definitely more inline with the review. This is the only Radiohead album that I enjoyed upon first listen. That makes me a little nervous that it might not stand up over time. I usually have to force myself to keep listening before I actually enjoy a radiohead album.

    In terms of it not being cohesive I could see a an argument for it being two 4 track EPs but I feel like there is a common thread in the drum and bass department. The bass lines on this album are more consistently prominent than the band usually lets Colin be. And then the drum compositions are somewhat inspiring. Something about this album does feel very unpolished but I think that is intention. we’ll see how I feel about it in a few months.

  • Anonymous

    That’s Interesting that you two say that. I am definitely more inline with the review. This is the only Radiohead album that I enjoyed upon first listen. That makes me a little nervous that it might not stand up over time. I usually have to force myself to keep listening before I actually enjoy a radiohead album.

    In terms of it not being cohesive I could see a an argument for it being two 4 track EPs but I feel like there is a common thread in the drum and bass department. The bass lines on this album are more consistently prominent than the band usually lets Colin be. And then the drum compositions are somewhat inspiring. Something about this album does feel very unpolished but I think that is intention. we’ll see how I feel about it in a few months.