Liveblog: The King of Limbs: My first listen

Sometimes all-caps are ok. King of Limbs is out early. Get it. Got it. Good. Lets talk (in the comments).

Slight language warning on this one… sadly it’s the line that made me choose this song to accompany this post.

“You want me, well come on and break the door down.”

Here’s my liveblog of the first listen to King Of Limbs (a title that sounds a little bit like a Stephen King novel):
Track 1: Bloom
Opens with weird rhythm. By the middle of the track the beat is starting to sound a little like raindrops on a tin roof or something. Not as listenable as early Radiohead, but typical of anything post Hail to the Thief (and by that I mean In Rainbows and Thom Yorke’s The Eraser. The raindrop effect is a little emphasised towards the end where the sound is dramatically similar to actual rain. Albeit electronic rain.

Track 2: Morning Mr Magpie
Guitars. Actual guitars. Possibly looped on something computeresque. It sounds like a proper song. Robyn says it sounds like they put an ADHD kid on the drums. Better than Bloom. I reckon. Sounds like a bit of theremin in the background. Guitar riff at one point reminds me of one of my favourite Radiohead songs. I Might Be Wrong. Though, I might be wrong.

So far it sounds like the album is set in a creepy garden.

Track 3: Little by Little
More guitars, slightly Beck-like drums. A little bit acoustic. Moving closer towards “radio single” territory. But still not quite there. Still a bit of weirdness. Sounds like some of the instruments are kitchen implements.

“Little by little, by hook or by crook… I’m such a tease and you’re such a flirt”

Very layered. I like this one best of the three. So far. I think. So does Robyn.

Track 4: Feral
Almost immediately reminds me of Like Spinning Plates. But, Like Spinning Plates performed by a DJ having some sort of fit.

This album, so far, is probably the love child of Amnesiac and In Rainbows. Neither of which are my favourite Radiohead albums – but both of which have their place. I liked it better when Radiohead were angsty loners desperate to be loved. Not self-assured loners determined to be weird.

Track 5: Lotus Flower
Robyn asks “have you played much Radiohead to me” – I have to confess “not much, but I’ve played a lot more of their old stuff than their new stuff” – because it’s true. I’d much rather play the stuff that I don’t have to explain liking than the stuff I do. We sing their old stuff on SingStar. That’s not going to happen with this album yet. But this song is nicer. Possibly single material. It’s not going to get the Sports Tonight airplay that Muse does – I think suggestions that Muse are a wannabe Radiohead are long since dead.

This song is much, much, nicer. Almost pleasant. Robyn says “they all sound the same”… this one is Bjork meets Sigur Ros.

You can watch the official clip for Lotus Flower on YouTube (which to me suggests this is the single). Thom Yorke dances like a crazy man.

When you click through to watch that on YouTube it only has 310 views. So you feel like one of the early, special, few. But it has more than 5,000 likes. Methinks something is amiss.

Track 6: Codex
Some keys. Nice. And wind chime sounds. More keys. Space age keys. A little haunting. And then an Oasisesque lyrical opening. Yorke’s voice almost sounds like Liam Gallagher in that song he did with Death In Vegas (Scorpio Rising) {youtube link}… for about a second. Robyn says “this one belongs closer to the realm of music. I really like it. Best track so far.

Track 7: Give Up The Ghost
We’re back in the garden. Birdsongs. Acoustic guitar. With rhythmic slaps. Closer to the category of “easy listening” than anything else so far. Lilting and haunting. Ghosty. Which I guess fits with the title.

Track 8: Separator
Hard to define. Much less sonically busy than the other tracks. Perhaps more optimistic.

“If you think this is over then you’re wrong”

One can only hope that they are talking about their career.

Summing up: This could well be a horror album (like a horror movie) – not a horrible album (though there are people who think that horror movies are by nature horrible). The title, and the tone of the first few tracks, is, as I mentioned, a little Stephen King. As is the graphic on the album website.

It’s a challenging album – full of the stuff that makes people not like Radiohead, but also showcasing why it is that they’re a polarising force and the verdict isn’t unanimous. Yorke’s voice is enthralling. They have the ability to create a mood and a reaction like no other band I’ve ever heard. Unless “fairy floss pink” is a mood – in which case U2 is blessed with similar abilities.

When the final track clicked over in iTunes and “My Iron Lung” started playing – I’ve got to admit – I miss the old Radiohead. But the new Radiohead is still better than 90% of the music being produced these days anyway. So I’ll stick with what they’re giving rather than sticking with nothing at all.

The King of Limbs reminded me of the only Stephen King book I’ve actually read.

[ssba]

The author

Nathan runs St Eutychus. He loves Jesus. His wife. His daughter. His son. His other daughter. His dog. Coffee. And the Internet. He is the campus pastor at Creek Road South Bank, a graduate of Queensland Theological College (M. Div) and the Queensland University of Technology (B. Journ). He spent a significant portion of his pre-ministry-as-a-full-time-job life working in Public Relations, and now loves promoting Jesus in Brisbane and online. He can't believe how great it is that people pay him to talk and think about Jesus.

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