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[personal profile] shirou
When Radiohead's King of Limbs (KoL) came out in February, a lot of people complained that it isn't as good as Radiohead's previous albums. I reserved judgment: I typically like to listen to a song or album several dozens of times before I come to any firm verdict. Now — nine months later, with a gin tonic in hand — I feel ready to talk about it.

I agree that KoL is disappointing as an album. Several of the songs are good, but the album feels incomplete because it's short — only eight tracks — and because there isn't enough variation between the songs. They all have some combination of a nervous, tense energy and a somber, melancholy flow. The problem isn't that the songs sound the same — they don't, thanks to falling in different places on the nervous/somber spectrum — it's that the album is missing crucial elements. The primary deficiency, in my opinion, is the complete absence of anything exciting to get the blood flowing, like Bodysnatchers or Jigsaw Falling Into Place from In Rainbows.

On the other hand, the significance of the album as a stand-alone object is diminishing. Rarely do I sit down and listen to an album from beginning to end, or even just a subset of a particular album. I do as most people do these days: I compile a playlist and listen to the songs in a random order. In this environment, the cohesiveness and completeness of the album become secondary to the quality of the individual tracks.

Using this measure, KoL fares much better. Four KoL songs — Morning Mr Magpie, Little By Little, Lotus Flower and Codex — regularly make it onto my playlists. That's 50 percent, which for me is not at all bad. Little By Little in particular has emerged as one of my favorite songs. Thus, while I'm not likely to sit down and listen only to KoL, I can't say that I'm disappointed with it. I appreciate the songs for what they are and I've developed a real love for a few of them; when I'm in the mood for a more loose and lively style of Radiohead song, I turn back to Bodysnatchers and other older songs.

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shirou

November 2011

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