As a music critic one of the biggest schoolboy errors you can make is to write off a Radiohead album as rubbish because those same songs that went over your head completely on the first few listens can become your favourites given time.
It is for this reason that I am extremely hesitant in calling King Of Limbs the weakest album that Radiohead has recorded to date because I realise fully that my initial perception of it could change at any moment.
Still though, at 20+ listens I’m usually batshit over their albums and sadly that’s not the case with King Of Limbs.
Sure, the production is slick and Thom Yorke’s vocals are as dexterous, haunting and fresh as ever, especially on the album’s first single “Lotus Flower”, but there’s something quintessentially RADIOHEAD that’s missing from this album.
The opening tracks “Bloom” and “Morning Mr Magpie” float past in a stuttering, meandering arrangement of pianos, customary post-OK Computer shuffling drum beats, blaring horns and repetitive melodies that don’t have a single hook to share among them.
“Little By Little” is a great track though and sounds like it would be right at home on Hail To The Thief with its full, multi-layered percussion, catchy basslines and ingeniously subliminal guitar parts. It’s the Radiohead we know and love and one of the few rays of light on this album.
“Lotus Flower” is also a phenomenal track. It hangs in the balance between the sinister and the sublime, finally breaking free in a moment of catharsis as Yorke’s vocals soar above the stratosphere as the song reaches its climactic chorous.
“Slowly we unfurl / As Lotus flowers / And all that I want is the moon upon a stick / Dancing around the pit / Just to see what it is” Yorke sings in a voice so pure and unrestrained it gives me chills every time I hear it.
In comparison the rest of the material on King Of Limbs is pretty mediocre. “Codex”, for all its glorious melancholy sounds like a recycled version of “Pyramid Song”, “Give Up The Ghost” sounds like a bad cover of “Nude” and the instrumental track “Feral” is pure, unadulterated filler.
And that, bar the echoey, limp closing track “Separator” is that. Eight tracks that are almost all pretty much instantly forgettable and it’s over before it ever really started.
There are rumours of a second King Of Limbs album being released shortly and all I can say is I hope they’re true and I hope that the second one is better in every conceivable way than the first because if this is the best this band can do then I sense an imminent hiatus on the cards.
Final Verdict: 6/10