At this point, you can’t really compare Radiohead to anything other than Radiohead. Their known quantity, inextricable from the niche they operate. The only apt way to describe their new work is thorough the analogous exhortation or defamation in comparison to their previous work. “Better than…” or “Worse than…” It happens to all artists, but you find that this is especially applicable to the boys from Abingdon. Their albums are Rorschach test, the album you attach yourself towards having something to say about your temperament or personality. Are you a summer and dig Ok Computer? Or are you a winter and dig Kid A? Is Amnesiac your favorite album or do you like Hail to The Thief? That’s the real question being ask.
Where it stands, King Of Limbs seems to serve as a logical progression from In Rainbows. Grown comfortable with finding a successful marketing model, Radiohead eschews the pay-what-you-want for a straighter business model. What you get is a solid 8-track album/EP for about 10 bucks that range from electro-funk, prog.noise and weird genre deviations that are pretty much Thom and the Gang’s wheelhouse. Radiohead had gotten to the point where they could give a shit, so it doesn’t surprise when they take risk like other bands tune their instrument.
I have to say that my favorite cut on the album, Feral, plays heavy with artifice. The pulsing drums twist around Yorke’s trademark falsetto, strained thorough a digital sieve. The track skips and loops like a gramophone with a broken needle. Yorke’s vocals float in and out like a ghost from a half-remembered dream. Popping in and out thorough audio phase-space. Give up the ghost rock strip down choosy vocal with a steady ¾ and layered so fuzzy that it feels like being swaddled to death by a mountain of blankets. Morning Mr. Magpie is caffeinated, frantic and just plain neat. The album comes seems to hit the same parts of the brain that Yorke’s eraser solo-effort hit, but that might just describe Radiohead’s approach to music from now on.
It’s not a forgettable album by any stretch but it’s not really surprising in any esteem. It follows a set precedent. For fans, it’s another one for the scrapbook. For non-converts, it’s not exactly going to make you an overnight diehard. I wouldn’t wager Radiohead caring either way. They seem busy doing whatever the fuck they want.