[sic] Magazine

Radiohead – The King of Limbs

The old ways of life are obsolete. People will talk aghast of the former distribution model, where the vinyl LP, compact disc, or even – shudder – the cassette, were delivery mechanisms for music. Everything then as was, now no longer. My son – a sprightly six next month – gazed in amazement at the thought of vinyl, and then idly scratched his hand over the b-side to a 7’ single to see what it felt like. In the end, we went to the record player, and he was amazed as the needle hit the groove, and those bends, pitches and curves became sound.

Though King of Limbs follows the new methods, delivering music directly to you – and, for a record that was barely known of this time last week, it has a very old philosophy. Eight songs, 35 minutes. The material itself though, is hardly the stuff of legend. In fact, for me, it’s the least exciting record by Radiohead since 1993’s dreary Pablo Honey : ‘Feral’ is three short minutes of a much shorter idea drawn out to an unbearable tedious repetition. As with the rest of this record, the drum patterns are thoroughly unimaginative – a constant shuffle lacking all dynamism that drags the songs ever further down to mediocrity. Aided and abetted by a limp production, and the usual bleeps and bloops, it staggers me how Radiohead ever got to the size they did – on the basis of this forgettable collection of dull matter there’s little, if anything, to recommend it, and were this the product of anyone else, it would sink without trace to little love by anyone.

Over time though, it reveals itself as a rewarding but slender feast over repeated exposure. ‘Morning Mr Magpie’, first glimpsed in a 2002 webcast, has the first echo of greatness, the swooning, wordless bridge. Though soon, this sludge of stuttering rhythms, short electronica and limp guitar starts to pale into an unmemorable, falsetto desert. Is this really an album worth releasing?

At least it’s the world’s first zero-carbon, fully recycled album: no invention, no new ideas, nothing new. A set of moribund rhythms plod along whilst Thom wails somewhat apathetically, and the rest of the band seem to be easing into relaxed middle age. Guitars apologise for their presence, and the bass meekly taps on the door. ‘Codex’, a gentle piano lament is the only article of any exceptional ability or worth here – everything else is dull repetition.

The King Of Limbs is Radiohead-by-numbers – a dull, boring listen lacking in musical or lyrical depth, a monotone mid-point of shuffling rhythms, anodyne production, and forgettable songs that is the sound of the Radiohead dog chasing it’s own pointless tail.

For more from Mark, please visit The Final Word