Radiohead – A Moon Shaped PoolCultureMusicAlbum reviews
For the eagle-eyed among us, the sudden release of Radiohead’s new album, A Moon Shaped Pool, won’t have come as too much of a surprise. The clues have been there for all to see, most notably a raft of dates at major festivals this summer, as well as two sold-out shows at London’s Roundhouse. The anticipation surely reached fever pitch on Thursday, when lead single Burn the Witch was released to the baying masses. It’s been five long years since The King of Limbs, with barely a peep from Thom Yorke et al. Was it worth the wait? In a word: absolutely.
Somehow Radiohead have stayed consistently ahead of the musical curve for so long. They defy a genre, and yet seem to be masters of all of them, wantonly skipping from the bright pop sound of their early years to the dark, twisted electronica of the early millennium, and now seemingly settling in a perfect amalgam of the two. Where The King of Limbs was a more binary electronic sound that clearly bore the hallmarks of Yorke’s overriding influence, A Moon Shaped Pool is a considerably more complete record. We already know the jittery strings and rumbling bass of album opener Burn the Witch, swiftly followed by the luscious Daydreaming, with its simple piano notes embossed with a full coat of Radiohead’s electronic paint.
It’s Deck’s Dark that will get the blood pumping though. An instant Radiohead classic in every way, it draws on all the great and good from their entire back catalogue – the lyrics have the punky nonchalance of Pablo Honey, the guitar line could be pulled straight off OK Computer, and it’s wrapped up in all the scuzz of Kid A. As a collection, it ranks up with Radiohead’s best. Each track brings something to the table: Glass Eyes is a dictionary definition of the introspective melancholy that Yorke and co have seemingly pioneered, whilst Identikit sounds more like an off-the-cuff jazz warm-up to start with, before the tempo is ramped up and Colin Greenwood’s thudding bass lines are layered over.
What Radiohead have managed to achieve is somehow capturing society’s anxiety in musical form; as Yorke dutifully tells us in Burn the Witch, “This is a low-flying panic attack”. But it is this creative skill that makes their sound strike a chord with every listener. If A Moon Shaped Pool tells us anything it’s that, 25 years later, Radiohead still sit comfortably at the top of the alternative music mountain.
A Moon Shaped Pool is released on 8th May 2016, for further information and to buy the album visit here.
Watch the video for Burn the Witch here: