Suspending Judgment: The King Of Limbs by Radiohead

Radiohead fans have learned to bear patiently with the band over the course of their career. Ever since they trampled all over the “one hit wonder” label with The Bends, they’ve been completely defying the expectations of their audience with each successive album. Their last full-length, 2007’s In Rainbows, went far beyond expectations, proving the band was anything but short on inspiration. And so, at this point, waiting three and a half years for a new collection from the world’s greatest anti-rock band doesn’t seem like much to ask. We are assured that when Radiohead gets around to releasing something new, it will be brilliant, and well worth the wait.

Only I’m not so sure about The King Of Limbs yet…

I will stick with it for a long time before I give up on it, but I’ve listened to it a good seven or eight times since it was released last Friday, and I’m not convinced it measures up. A few thoughts:

  • It sounds more like what I would have expected from Thom Yorke as a second solo record, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The problem is that it doesn’t have the “massive” feel of the other Radiohead albums. It’s certainly not a “guitar” record.
  • There isn’t a “fireworks” track on this record. Think of “The National Anthem” or “Pyramid Song” or “There There” or “Reckoner.” There’s no moment of unfathomable greatness that explodes from the speakers, blowing your mind. Perhaps The King Of Limbs is more about restraint than catharsis.
  • Eight tracks? Surely there’s more where this came from?
  • I hate to say it, but many of the tracks seem like they would have been better as b-sides. Of course, Radiohead are a great b-sides band.
  • For crying out loud, will they ever release “Follow Me Around” and “Lift” as studio recordings?

I will say that The King Of Limbs is growing on me though. I don’t think it will ever measure up to In Rainbows or Kid A in my mind, but there’s at least one track that’s undeniably brilliant (“Codex”), and a handful of other lovely moments (“Give Up The Ghost”). I’m going to suspend judgment on this one until I’ve given it the hearing that Radiohead deserve.

Radiohead: In Rainbows (2007)

Radiohead
In Rainbows; 2007
Self-Released
My Rating: 100/100
The Bible tells us that the rainbow is the sign of God’s promise to never smite the earth with a world-wide flood again, a sign of perpetual joy and a hopeful tomorrow to all of mankind. With this, Radiohead became the type of band that one needs to thank God for in their prayers every night. While there aren’t many signs of outright optimism in Radiohead’s music, this is the record where the Oxford five re-discovered the joy of making music, something they may not have had since before “Creep.” When I speak of joy, I’m not referring to sunny feelings and corny sing-a-longs NECESSARILY (gotta give a shout out to the Wilco boyz here); it’s more like a freedom of creativity, being unshackled from the past, hopeful about what tomorrow may bring. For this reason, IN RAINBOWS is a joyful and HIGHLY ENJOYABLE record. The band sounds at ease with the songs, which gives them an extra dimension (warmth?) that HAIL TO THIEF lacked, and it’s really delightful to hear what they did with old tracks “Nude” and “Reckoner.” “15 Step” is the band’s most energizing opener since “Airbag” (all due respect to “Everything In Its Right Place”, which is more transporting than energizing), and with “Videotape”, the band comes close to channeling the same dark muse that haunted “Street Spirit.” Elsewhere, “All I Need” and “House of Cards” are big highlights, and the album as a whole has that seamless flow that is crucial to a perfect record. United in concept, monumental in consequence (there’s plenty to read about this elsewhere), holding together like a classic record should, IN RAINBOWS is the type of album that makes it great to be alive. (Weird, huh?)
Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (5/5)
Consistency (5/5)
Tracks:
1. 15 Step (5/5)
2. Bodysnatchers (5/5)
3. Nude (5/5)
4. Arpeggi (Weird Fishes) (5/5)
5. All I Need (5/5)
6. Faust Arp (5/5)
7. Reckoner (5/5)
8. House of Cards (5/5)
9. Jigsaw Falling into Place (5/5)
10. Videotape (5/5)

In_Rainbows_Official_CoverRadiohead
In Rainbows; 2007
Self-Released

My Rating: 100/100

The Bible tells us that the rainbow is the sign of God’s promise to never smite the earth with a world-wide flood again, a sign of perpetual joy and a hopeful tomorrow to all of mankind. With this, Radiohead became the type of band that one needs to thank God for in their prayers every night. While there aren’t many signs of outright optimism in Radiohead’s music, this is the record where the Oxford five re-discovered the joy of making music, something they may not have had since before “Creep.” When I speak of joy, I’m not referring to sunny feelings and corny sing-a-longs NECESSARILY (gotta give a shout out to the Wilco boyz here); it’s more like a freedom of creativity, being unshackled from the past, hopeful about what tomorrow may bring. For this reason, IN RAINBOWS is a joyful and HIGHLY ENJOYABLE record. The band sounds at ease with the songs, which gives them an extra dimension (warmth?) that HAIL TO THIEF lacked, and it’s really delightful to hear what they did with old tracks “Nude” and “Reckoner.” “15 Step” is the band’s most energizing opener since “Airbag” (all due respect to “Everything In Its Right Place”, which is more transporting than energizing), and with “Videotape”, the band comes close to channeling the same dark muse that haunted “Street Spirit.” Elsewhere, “All I Need” and “House of Cards” are big highlights, and the album as a whole has that seamless flow that is crucial to a perfect record. United in concept, monumental in consequence (there’s plenty to read about this elsewhere), holding together like a classic record should, IN RAINBOWS is the type of album that makes it great to be alive. (Weird, huh?)

Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (5/5)
Consistency (5/5)

Tracks:

1. 15 Step (5/5)
2. Bodysnatchers (5/5)
3. Nude (5/5)
4. Arpeggi (Weird Fishes) (5/5)
5. All I Need (5/5)
6. Faust Arp (5/5)
7. Reckoner (5/5)
8. House of Cards (5/5)
9. Jigsaw Falling into Place (5/5)
10. Videotape (5/5)