Words by Alex Napoliello

Ohere are very few bands that are not at the mercy of the music industry. Of course, like any business, the music industry is a two way street. Just like a corporation needs employees to flourish, music labels need talent to make money and vice versa. But Radiohead defied the typical model of success with the release of In Rainbows, their seventh studio LP. Rather, the British natives paid their way out of a contract with Capitol and self-released In Rainbows. Self-releasing an album isn’t unheard of, but not charging a single cent for it is revolutionary.

Radiohead toys with the industry and their fans like a lion plays with its prey – letting its guard down, waiting for the perfect moment to attack. Well, last Monday (a day after the Grammy’s), Radiohead found the ideal moment to feed. They announced that they would be releasing their new album, The King of Limbs, later that week via digital download (it costs $9 dollars this time around). No press? No sample of the single? No warning? Something tells me that this unexpected release was meticulously planned out, which is a similar feeling I got about the album after listening to it.

The first four tracks of the The King of Limbs gracefully flow into one another with a hint of vintage Radiohead nostalgia. The drum looping featured on “Bloom” and “Feral” strike a similar resemblance to the tempo of Kid A. Meanwhile, the themes explored in “Little By Little” (“I’m such a tease and you’re such a flirt/Once you’ve been hurt, you’ve been around”) and “Morning Mr. Magpie” (“you’ve got some nerve coming here”) touch on the same personal angst Thom Yorke incorporated in The Bends and on O.K. Computer.

Once you reach “Lotus Flower,” the fifth track and the single, the album goes through a seamless melodic transformation. “Lotus Flower” is the first song on the record to follow a traditional structure and feels like it could have been a lost track from In Rainbows. “Codex” has all the makings of a classical ballad, featuring just a piano and Yorke’s vocals. “Codex” ends with the sound of birds chirping and flows right into the second-to-last track, “Give up the Ghost,” in the way a concept album would.

The King of Limbs plays like a metaphor of Radiohead’s career. Like early Radiohead, the first four tracks on the album are darker, not necessarily somber, but not upbeat either. The last half of the album is cheerful and features more piano than heavy, synthesized beats, mimicking later Radiohead albums. Good thing for us is The King of Limbs finds a way to deliver the best of both worlds.

“The King of Limbs”
© February 18th, 2011



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