‘King of Limbs’ rules over true fans

By Kate MacDonald

(MCT)

It’s no big secret that lead singer Thom Yorke’s band Radiohead is a little unconventional. In their newest album, “King of Limbs,” this isn’t a bad thing.

The British band has gone through different genres and reinventions. The boys have been everywhere from grunge to 90s rock, with successful single “High and Dry,” up to a sort of techno/indefinable genre with their previous album’s “15 Step.” Yorke also ventured out on his own and released two solo CDs.

Radiohead is back making music as a band again. But their latest installment often sounds a bit like their previous work and doesn’t always bring something new to the table.

“King of Limbs” was released in digital download form on Feb. 18 and is available for purchase on Kingoflimbs.com. It will be released in CD format on March 28, while a special edition will makes its appearance on May 9. 

The album is deep; it’s one of those CDs that, listening to it the first time around, it probably won’t capture a lot of fans. But upon a second or even third listen, the deeper meaning in Yorke’s lyrics will shine through in many songs.

“Little By Little” is a good example of this. The percussion and guitar riff, though they don’t conventionally go together, seem to blend well on this track. From the beginning, however, Yorke’s usually effective and haunting falsetto seems to fail him, as he becomes almost unintelligible. But again, upon second listen, many will take this song to be one of the best on the mediocre album.

Of course, there are always those tracks that stand out from the beginning. For example, “Morning Mr. Magpie,” with its catchy beat and guitar riff, probably should have been the lead track on “King of Limbs.”

It features a short interlude in the middle of the song that sounds almost creepy, deep and foreign, and will leave listeners wanting a release.

The first song, “Bloom,” doesn’t do anything to help the album. From its annoying, computerized background music to odd lyrics, it’s a track that will leave listeners just plain confused after its five minutes are up.

It’s “King of Limbs” first single, “Lotus Flower” that truly steals the show. Everything from the synth sounds to the drum beat to the lead singer’s voice combines to form something new that everyone who’s ever enjoyed Radiohead should enjoy. It’s a captivating track, although the music video is lacking – Thom Yorke should probably never be filmed dancing again.

 “King of Limbs” is a relatively short album in comparison with their other works. At less than 40 minutes long and featuring only eight tracks, it’s unfortunate that some tunes like “Bloom” and the instrumental “Feral” can easily be skipped without detracting from the record.

The other songs on the album are decent, particularly the haunting and memorable “Give up the Ghost” which showcases the band’s talent. While reception so far has been somewhat mixed, this track proves that whether Radiohead is evolving or falling back on old music, they definitely haven’t lost their touch.

This is not the sort of album that would probably attract people who aren’t already fans of Radiohead. “OK Computer” or “The Bends” would be a better introduction to the often complex band. True fans, however, have been waiting for a new Radiohead album to drop since the release of the last record, “In Rainbows,” in the fall of 2007.

“King of Limbs” is not a bad CD, but it’s not anything particularly special from such a band. However, it is definitely worth a listen, or perhaps a second or a third. Radiohead can do better, but at least it’s a respite from the last three and a half years of near silence.

Kate MacDonald can be reached at [email protected]