Because it seems insane, as a random blogger, to be casting an opinion after one listen, even if every newspaper and music magazine / website in the world seemed to scramble to do the same thing. Predictably, most of them ended up sounding tapped or idiotic, enthusing too wildly, casting crazed comparisons. But that’s the thing with Radiohead – people feel compelled to comment. I certainly do.
So, four or five listens in, a couple in open-air, most over headphones, what do I think and feel now?
It’s clear that this album is very tightly about rhythms, and luckily I find most of the rhythms here compelling, moreish, perhaps even fun. Parts remind me of Caribou, of CAN, of Four Tet. Little By Little (like a live band playing something off Pause by Four Tet, tongue-clicks and squeaky toys and backwards spinning riffs and all), Mr Magpie (so taut, so spidery, such a gorgeous bass sound, such hiccupping in the stereo channels by Mr Yorke), Lotus Flower (handclaps! dancing!), and Separator are all sensuously, rhythmically enjoyable, and deliver tension and beauty alongside the grooves too (especially Separator).
I think the album’s brevity is a big plus – nothing outstays a welcome, even though some people I know think Bloom does when compared to Flying Lotus, who seems like a clear influence for that track (alongside, possibly, Talk Talk, in the orchestration – which means, actually, DJ Shadow or, more appositely, UNKLE feat. Thom Yorke, if you see what I mean). I have to disagree though, as I think Bloom gets to stretch out in a way that Flying Lotus doesn’t let his music enjoy.
I enjoy how low key the whole record is. It almost feels like a compilation of b-sides, and I do love b-sides, except that it seems to flow together. Separator is definitely a closing track; to me it feels like going home, dapples of green light, space, air. The first “side” of the record is perhaps the more action side, the more rhythmic side, and the second “side” retreats into quietude a little more, spreads out with Codex and Give Up The Ghost. I think the latter is the prettiest thing they’ve released in well over a decade, actually; is that the sound of someone thumping an acoustic guitar’s body with the ball of their thumb? A friend tells me it’s been Thom tapping a microphone and looping it when played live.
Feral I’m not bothered by; at first I thought it perhaps had something of James Blake about it, and it perhaps does a little, but it’s revealing itself as closer to the more abstract moments of Four Tet and Caribou, again.
And it’s the influence, or sonic redolence, of those two artists that explains why I’m enjoying this so much more than I usually do a Radiohead record. I had no expectations of The King Of Limbs at all; why would I? I’m not a fan the way (most of) the rest of the ex Stylus guys are, for instance. When Radiohead have been “important”, when they have “mattered”, I’ve not cared for them at all. It seems now as if they don’t care about “mattering”, and I like tem a whole lot more. What does that say about me? It says I should go back and find out if they always sounded as if they cared about “mattering”.