Since their mainstream debut, Radiohead has always had considerable hype surrounding it’s album releases. Their latest album, “The King of Limbs,” was no different in that respect.
Despite its release date being announced a mere four days before its release, Facebook statuses, music blogs and print media headlines alike shared a similar excitement for the indie-rock veterans to reveal their eighth studio album.
To clarify, Radiohead announced on Feb. 14 that the new album would be available as a digital download Feb. 19 but then bumped up the release date to Feb. 18. A physical copy of the album is said to be available March 28.
So now that the album is out and the pre-release hype is over, what do we make of “The King of Limbs”?
As of right now, I am a little disappointed in the album. I say “as of right now” because in the past it has taken some time for me to fully appreciate Radiohead albums, and I have only had the new album for four days.
Nevertheless, there seems to be something missing from it.
The songs are good, containing the creative complexities of Radiohead’s signature sound, but they aren’t great, not when compared to previous efforts anyway.
The last time Radiohead emerged from the studio, it unveiled “In Rainbows,” arguably one of its best albums if not the best. It received near universal praise and was a most triumphant step up from the lackluster, albeit misunderstood dry spell that was “Amnesiac” and “Hail to the Thief.”
Following the release, Rolling Stone gave Radiohead a cover with the headline “The Future Belongs to Radiohead.” While I believe Rolling Stone accurately captured the sentiment of the time, I wonder if they spoke too soon.
“The King of Limbs” begins in a most unexciting fashion; a pretty piano melody fades into ambient noise before a dull, march-like drumbeat starts and continues non-stop through the entire song. I’m tempted to say I was bored with the opening track, a first for a Radiohead album.
The album doesn’t pick up until the third track, an up-tempo, moderately catchy song titled “Little by Little.”
From there, it gets better; the pinnacle song of the eight-track album being “Lotus Flower,” a beautiful example of the music Radiohead is capable of making.
Overall, my biggest criticism would be that the whole is less than the sum of its parts.
The songs don’t work together to create an exciting, unified album. They simply aren’t compelling enough.
There are rumors that Radiohead has cryptically hidden plans to reveal more tracks for the album – a rumor I would love to find out is true – but these clever ploys to keep music listening interesting, as noteworthy as they are, do not change my mind on the current quality of the album.
“The King of Limbs” is not, however, a bad album. I don’t know if it’s possible for Radiohead to make a bad album.
The musicianship demonstrated by all members of the band greatly exceeds expectations in an industry driven by repetition and over-produced simplicity.
I would certainly recommend a listen, though maybe not for a virgin listener.
While the efforts of Radiohead deserve much respect, I fail to see the appeal of glorifying its work without questioning it, something the members would undoubtedly hate for their fans to do, yet something that is very easily done given the nature of its large and loyal following.
I encourage you to listen to its music with an open mind, taking notice of things you like and dislike about it. In fact, why don’t you go ahead and do that for any and all music you listen to?
— Pannekoek is a senior from Chesterton, Ind., majoring in English writing.