When Radiohead‘s last album In Rainbows came out on 10 October 2007 I downloaded it, listened to it and…well, I really didn’t get it.
It sat in my MP3 folder for a couple of years, occasionally getting an airing, even playing it two or three times back-to-back to try to get inside it and each time putting it away again disappointed.
A couple of weeks ago Radiohead announced the immanent release of their new album The King of Limbs. So I dutifully rolled out their back catalogue in preparation.
Suddenly In Rainbows made sense. Like a jigsaw falling into place.
What a revelation! An epiphany!
The King of Limbs
I downloaded The King of Limbs last night having listened to an interview with Andy Kershaw and Alex Poots (director of the Manchester International Festival) on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4.
The article was entitled “is Radiohead’s new album ‘a grower’?” and introduced the topic with “the band Radiohead has come under criticism after some critics claimed its eighth album, The King of Limbs, which was released this month, was ‘impenetrable’. Others have said the album needs time to grow on the listener.”
Andy Kershaw, who admitted not having listened to it, slated it; I thought unjustifiably.
On my first listen I loved it.
I find it neither impenetrable nor ‘a grower’. For me it was an immediate connection with the music. It’s not The Bends, it’s not OK Computer, it’s not Kid A but it is definitely Radiohead and I can see me listening to this album for quite some time to come.
Review from The Telegraph
I read a few reviews after I’d listened to the album a couple of times. This is my favourite paragraph from Neil McCormick’s review in The Telegraph:
It is reliably unorthodox, a new sonic adventure for the restless Oxford quintet, but, despite its boldness and weirdness, it is easy on the ear, with a mellifluous melodiousness and gentle sonic palette that doesn’t demand huge leaps of faith. Percussive, groovy, spacious, ethereal and melodic, this is late night Radiohead, a stoned, somnambulistic wander through the urban wastelands shared by such post-Dubstep adventurers as Burial and James Blake. Taking the tender intimacy of Radiohead classics like No Surprises and Fake Plastic Trees and cross fertilising them with elements of world music, jazz and ambient, the result is the kind of chill out music that keeps you awake. Highly strung and instinctively contrary, but also deeply harmonically musical, Radiohead somehow finds a space between the sinister and the beautiful, the tense and the meditative. They remain masters of musical dichotomy.