[sic] Magazine

Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool

There’s a temptation to review it halfway through the first listen. To place the review up, and claim FIRST! And gloat about it. But not this. Radiohead and I have a complicated relationship. They’re stubborn bastards. A slow work rate. They seem to have carved themselves into a narrow trench where they don’t actually sound like anyone else. Every band, of course, should sound like only ever themselves. Half a decade after the slight The King Of Limbs – which came out at a truly appalling time in my world – A Moon Shaped Pool is Radiohead’s most insular record yet, and their most effective. It carries with it a deliberation. An unhurried approach. A measured glory.

Sure, Thom Yorke – and the rest of the band – aren’t to everyone’s taste. It’s possible that, in the future, they’ll be seen akin to the best of the post millennium debacle, rather than with the horror I currently view Simply Red.

0nly time will tell if they stand the test of time.

A Moon Shaped Pool resonates with me. At this time and at this hour. Politically, a divided and unhappy Britain. The album carries with it a cloud, a fog, a sense of relaxed, exhausted doom in it, as if, somehow the band have simply had enough of this, and yet, must somehow, live within it. Like I do right now. It’s an album made clear of thought. Isn’t the mind the sexiest thing in the world?

You will probably have heard ‘Burn The Witch’ : a darkly paranoid and fearful rampage, which – like all Radiohead songs – follows the basic semblance of chorus and matches it with the accessibility of a monolith. The songs work on a lyrical basis of suggested half-truths and vague promises, on the world of some kind of known, but half-formed emotional reality. It sounds authentic (because it is), and musically carries with the sense of some kind of hovering threat, coupled with an air of tired, finished, resignation.

There’s beauty in here – ‘Daydreaming’ – and at last, ‘True Love Waits’ is complete and released, 20 years after it was first performed live. A lot has changed since then. When it was written, that song was the kind of cynical, but hopeful anthem. Now, divorce and separation, and children, later, it’s the kind of song that seems far more nuanced. The vision of lollipops when it was written no longer applies. Except to the younglings of a broken home. The declarations of unending love are more the shadows of a committed regret.. that I will love you even though you live with another… that I would give you everything; and at one point I did … but it wasn’t enough. Over all this, there’s a sense of sadness. Sure Radiohead are affluent now; but is that all it takes to make everything alright forever? It’s been a long five years. Much has changed. And A Moon Shaped Pool is a violently successful artistic return to Radiohead at their most potent.

For more from Mark, please visit The Final Word