Radiohead is a band that, like Tool, suffers from a very deluded fanbase. They have attracted these fans that ultimately worship every one of their releases, which is understandable considering they are responsible for classics such as Kid A and OK Computer. The King Of Limbs is Radiohead’s eighth studio album and, as expected, gained a lot of controversy from two sets of fans, those who say they don’t like it, and the other set of fans that are screaming “You just don’t get it!” in retaliation. And it’s because of these fanboys that I’ve been a little weary of reviewing this album.
Opening track Bloom shows why Radiohead have titled this album The King Of Limbs because there are many layers thrown upon each track, with some of them being sounds that have been looped over and over by the band. Bloom’s main sound is the drum loop that is very crisp, but a little too rough against the smooth atmosphere that sits quietly behind it. However, the drums do eventually sink into the music as Bloom swells into this huge burst of synth which takes the track into another direction, and Thom Yorke’s vocals lazily sits on top of it.
It’s not until the track Feral in which the mix of harsh, mechanical noises and smooth, delicate atmosphere’s finally blend into one another to create a song that isn’t so one sided. This is where The King Of Limbs pales with it’s predecessor In Rainbows, as that album displayed Radiohead’s atmospheric work at its best, while still keeping a jagged edge in songs like Bodysnatchers and 15 Step.
Lotus Flower is the single for the album and matches the album title perfectly, there are so many layers of instrumentation used here, where some is loud and the others such as the handclaps are subtle. What makes this song possibly the strongest on the record is that despite the layers, it doesn’t sound overbearing. There is also some variety in the percussion too, which makes me wonder why Radiohead decided to add a lot of repetition to the former half of the album.
Thom Yorke’s vocals are allowed to be heard without too many effects piled on them, and as always they sound fantastic. Thom always succeeds in projecting a lot of pained emotion in his voice and creating some of the rawest songs in music, such as Nude on 2007’s In Rainbows.
The King Of Limbs is a decent record, whether or not I need to go and listen to it a million times more to “get” it, but there’s simply not a lot of features here that makes me want to go back and give it another listen. If Radiohead had made the album’s first half much softer and less harsh like its latter half, then it would have been a bit more consistent and accessible. Sadly this record obviously pales compared to Kid A and OK Computer, but also pales in Radiohead’s more recent records such as In Rainbows. But I guess I can take comfort in letting The King Of Limbs return to its throne, to be worshipped by the fanboys.