By Tressa Eckermann, Senior Staff Writer
Radiohead has found a unique balance between the bizarre and the entertaining with their last few albums.
With their newest album, “The King of Limbs,” released March 28, they perfect this method. They also make the case as to why their fans call them the “greatest band in the world.”
It’s a full minute before we hear Thom Yorke’s breathless and mournful voice on the first track, “Bloom,” and its sweeping, grandiose epic background. The second song, “Morning Mr. Magpie,” is both playful and creepy with a stuttering background that almost overpowers Yorke on a few occasions.
There are a lot of great things about this album and the songs on it, but there are two clear standouts: track five, “Lotus Flower,” and track six, “Codex.”
“Lotus Flower” is accompanied by an online video of Yorke doing what could be the coolest dance ever. It sums up the entire album – beautiful, bizarre, hypnotic and unique with lyrics like “There’s an empty space inside my heart, where the weeds take root, so now I’ll set you free, I’ll set you free.” It’s a song that moves easily and proves how powerful the band can be. When it was over, I played it several more times. “Codex” is a melodic and fresh song that stays with you long after the too-short album is over.
There are a few problems with “The King of Limbs,” one being the tone of the album, which is melodic and earthy but can become a little overbearing at times. “Your clue on hold, snapped up, crawling with my love, the last one out of the box, the one that broke the seal,” Yorke hums out on “Little by Little.” This song a long time to get started, but once it does, it’s something to hear.
“King of Limbs” contains only eight tracks, but those eight songs are rich and challenging. One reason Radiohead has always been an extraordinary band is bacause of their ability to balance grand lyrics and sounds without compromising themselves.
They close out the album with “Give up the Ghost,” an unusual but beautiful song that begins with soft background vocals and a drumbeat accompanying Yorke. The final song, “Separator,” is a nice finish, but feels slightly weaker than the other songs on the album due to an unsatisfying techno beat that just doesn’t feel right.
This isn’t an album for the casual Radiohead fan (if such a thing even exists; we’re a pretty rabid bunch). To them, it would be tedious and melodramatic, but to us devoted fans, it is a beautiful example of the bands craftsmanship.
“The King of Limbs” is, with all its thrilling strength and nuances, an excellent addition to Radiohead’s already considerably brilliant career.