King of Limbs will set you free

King of Limbs will set you free

Radiohead has done it again with the latest addition to their album collection, The King of Limbs. Released stealthily last Saturday, the album hit within two weeks after its existence was announced. The CD spans only eight tracks and amounts to 37:30, the shortest album the band has ever released – although a second half is rumored to follow. The album is short, but in no way lacks content. Melding with what seems like the melodramatic and poppy sounds of ‘95’s The Bends and the more futuristic and electronic feel of Kid A, The King of Limbs still stands alone as an individual, as do most of Radiohead’s CDs.

Moving past the initial shock of a new Radiohead album even being released, The King of Limbs is another chapter in the band’s longevity, adding pages to their already lengthy legacy. The album opens up with the track “Bloom,” which starts off with a claustrophobic feel. Flooding speakers with scattered drums and looped tones, the track creates an uneasy feel, leaving listeners wanting conclusion to an almost confusing intro. Building slowly, “Bloom” becomes more and more layered, turning into something beautiful. Lead vocalist Thom Yorke’s voice stretches across the track, intertwining with the constant tones and movements from the synth and horns. The drums are constant, keeping the song moving. The song is highly instrumental considering the lyrics only spans two six-line stanzas, making Yorke’s voice more an instrument in itself.

As the album progresses, the melodramatic pop feel emerges into a strong presence, especially in “Morning Mr. Magpie.”  The extreme simplicity of the lyrics has no effect on the overall grandeur of the song. It’s something that isn’t noticed unless looked up, which is just another example of how musically driven the album is. The constant bass line and continuous guitar riff gives the song a dance-like beat contrasting with Yorke’s tone, which conveys a lofty and calm feeling. The two combine to make a naturally calming and enjoyable track that moves quickly through a playlist.

Further down the list, the track “Lotus Flower” does something similar. Accompanied by with the release of a video, the members of Radiohead truly outdo themselves with this single. The video is simplistic, with Thom Yorke dancing in what looks like an abandoned aircraft hanger, singing the song to himself. Watching, one can only say: “weird.” Although Yorke seems to be ghostlike in both movement and lyrics, there’s something intriguing about it, on both sonic and visual planes. Honestly, we had no idea why we could sit and watch Yorke dance for five minutes flat and be okay with it. But it works, and that’s what is so intriguing about it all. The lines “I set you free” repeated over and over in the song not only are represented in a visual fashion with Yorke’s dancing but within the music, as the track continuously builds into something spectacularly liberating. Mission accomplished, Thom.

The song itself is extremely catchy. The drums are the main drive behind it all and add a lot to the track, with double bass hits and drops on the snare. The bass goes hand-in-hand with the drums, keeping the rhythm of tune constant and flowing. The production team really understands how to play with the levels of each instrument, tone and sound within the song, pulling things back and making others more prominent as it all progresses. Radiohead definitely made the correct choice in making “Lotus Flower” their single.

“Codex” is another track that deserves recognition. Beautifully composed, the piano driven tune really transforms the claustrophobic feel the beginning of the album gives to a spacious and wide essence, leaving the listener to float away. The lyrics add to that empty feeling: “Jump off the end, into a clear lake, no one around.” Surprisingly void of the normal layers of a Radiohead song, “Codex” is still fulfilling. Perhaps it is its lack of instrumentation and layers that make it stand out amongst the rest. The contrast of this vocally powered song is a nice change to an instrumentally driven album. It’s definitely a more somber, doom-like song leaving a listener twisted with emotion between peace and death – potentially the point between the two ideals. The song decomposes at the end leaving a bittersweet feeling behind.

The four other tracks on The King of Limbs include “Little by Little,” “Feral,” “Give Up the Ghost,” and “Separator,” all of which are worth listening to. Although the album was sprung upon the public randomly, Radiohead, again, has made their mark in the music industry and will likely continue to do so because of its unconventional style and method of reaching fans. The King of Limbs will most likely be a topic of conversation for quite some time. We give it four out of five stars. Viva la Radiohead!