Music Buff: Radiohead’s “The King of Limbs”

Radiohead's new album artwork. (Courtesy)

Radiohead. Just saying the band’s name can bring enthusiastic reactions from music fans all over the globe.

Since 1992, the British quintet has climbed to both critical acclaim and immense popularity. The group has been nominated for multiple Grammy awards for their seven studio albums. Their groundbreaking LP “OK Computer” appeared on many “Best of” lists from publications such as “Spin,” “Pitchfork,” “Time” and “Rolling Stone.”

Over the course of their seven albums, the band has evolved and modified their sound to fit with the times. With the digital release of their eighth studio album, “The King of Limbs” on February 18, the band has continued to evolve their sound, while still having the Radiohead signature on the CD.

In the past decade, Radiohead has shifted their music from the straightforward rock sound that they had in the ‘90s to a more minimalist, electronic vibe. “The King of Limbs” continues that trend in a very cool fashion.

The beat-heavy songs are some of the most immediately notable elements to the album. Drummer Phil Selway takes the spotlight with his fascinating rhythms that swing and syncopate and still somehow fit into a time signature.

Aside from the drums, there are very few instruments that stick out. While the sounds blend together to create beautiful music, there are very few catchy melodies that will get stuck in your head. This makes for a very cool and unique sort of listening experience, where the listener can be as active or as passive with the music as they choose to be.

However, this sort of ambient vibe is also one of the album’s setbacks. Droning, atmospheric noises instead of catchy choruses can cause all of the songs to almost turn into one long song instead. Not that there’s anything wrong with it; the cohesive sound is one that is interesting enough to keep the listener entertained. However, it does make songs that break the mold, such as the lovely piano ballad “Codex” and the acoustic piece “Giving Up The Ghost,” much more refreshing in the mix of the minimalism.

The album art suggests a dark and creepy sort of experience, which is reflected in the music. The looming electronic sounds create a pretty heavy and dark atmosphere. And yet, the cool drumbeats are laid back and relaxing. It’s an interesting juxtaposition of emotions that adds a lot of depth to the record.

Thom Yorke’s voice is as great as ever on the album. His recognizable, detached vocals are beautiful, whether he’s wailing on “Giving Up the Ghost” or mumbling on the opening track “Bloom.” Manipulation of his voice on songs such as “Feral” even make Yorke one of the ambient instruments himself.

With a measly eight tracks, “The King of Limbs” can leave fans craving more. Still, the music that the band features on the record is very satisfying. While there still aren’t any tracks that can top their classic “Creep,” the overall album is a very solid addition to Radiohead’s collection.

The album is currently available for digital purchase at thekingoflimbs.com and also allows for preorder of the “Newspaper Album,” a box set to be sent out in June that includes vinyl records, a CD, artwork and a digital copy of the album.

 

Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Matt Glassett at Matthew.glassett@colorado.edu.

 

CU Independent

The CU Independent, or CUI for short, is the student news outlet for the University of Colorado at Boulder. We cover news, sports, politics, opinion, arts and entertainment and more. Our mission is to provide news and commentary that's for students and by students — about the things we care about.

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