This one has to be one of the most anticipated releases of the year. Radiohead had been gone for 5 years, and their last cd, The King Of Limbs, was pretty underwhelming (at least to me). Now they’ve come back with a surprise release (well, there were enough signs that the release was imminent, but still). And Radiohead lovers rejoice, it’s their best release since Hail To The Thief in 2003.
I wasn’t particularly fond of the direction Radiohead was going. To me, it seemed like they went from writing about being alienated and alone to making music that alienated their fans, which surely couldn’t have been their intention. Their last release sounded cold and emotionless, with a lot of electronics, and I’m glad they chose to go a different route this time.
A Moon Shaped Pool sounds like vintage Radiohead in many ways. It sounds like a band looking at society from the outside, but instead of trying to change it, they observe the atrocities and point them out. They sound tired, and have accepted that change does not come easy. Lyrics like “They never learn beyond the point of no return” in Daydreaming and “Through the nightbush, I don’t know where it leads, I don’t really care” in Glass Eyes show this despair and defeat. Luckily for us, it has created a great album.
There are far less electronics on this album then there was on the previous two. They use more orchestral influences, which can be explained by Johhny Greenwood’s venturing into soundtracks in recent years. It gives all the tracks a real spacious feel, less claustrophobic. Thom Yorke’s voice takes frontstage a lot, which is never a bad thing, since that man’s voice can still melt ice if it wants to.
As a full album, it sounds a lot like the Ok Computer of this century. That album dealt with the same issues that are still alive today (consumerism, alienation, political problems), but tried to rage against it. Here, they seem to have accepted that change will never come, and they remind us without trying to be condescending.
My favourite track is True Love Waits; This track has been in circulation for a while now, in various forms. It was originally written in 95, so it’s about 21 years old now. According to Nigel Godrich, their producer, they’ve wanted to record it for a long time, but it just never seemed to fit in. I’m glad they waited until now, because this version just sounds gorgeous. The piano at the beginning, the electronics that gradually seem to fill the space in the song. Like Street Spirit(Fadeout) and The Tourist, it’s a great ending to a great album. Sadly, I couldn’t find that one on Youtube, so have my second favourite : Daydreaming. Like a great post-rock song, it just gets more and more intense. Lovely.
As a conclusion: If you thought Radiohead were getting a little too weird or artsy for you, give them a new chance with this one. It’s gorgeously arranged, and the chance you’ll fall in love all over again is pretty big. Now go listen to it!