The beginning of the album starts off with “Bloom”. A very heavy bass and percussion, thanks to Colin and Phil, respectably, song that at its climax even brings in flutes. This is one of the strongest songs on the entire album, in my opinion, just as it needs to be. The already fast-pace ramps up as other instruments are added. The sound is reminiscent of Amnesiac immediately. Thom’s first lyrics “Open your mouth wide! A universe inside!” carries his voice so strongly. The percussion is persistent, along with the bass and the piano, from the beginning of the song is stagnant with it’s beat. Thom eventually serenades us with his haunting voice as the flute plays. The piano, percussion and bass are constantly reminding us they are the backbones of the song. This is one of the strongest songs on the entire album. Heavy instrumentation sounds ever so beautiful when the flutes ring through bringing us to the climax of the song.
A similar fast-paced beat ramps up in “Morning Mr. Magpie”. Thom’s opening vocals “You’ve got some nerve, coming hear. You stole my heart, give it back!” are striking and noticeably separate from the instruments. Thom’s vocal hymns are then displaced with the instruments. “You know you should, but you don’t” comes over and sets the beat once again. Thom’s soothing vocals turned instrumental bring us towards the end of the song. “Good morning, Mr. Magpie. How are we today?”
Instruments flood the beginning as the guitar plays in “Little By Little”. “The last one out of the box, the one who broke your spell,” is sung as we approach the chorus. The bass and percussion keep it afloat as the guitar plays tune. Thom comes in singing higher than the other songs right out of the gate. The melody is quick as Thom sings “Little by little” “I’m such a tease and you’re such a flirt”. The song ends and flows, as always, nicely into the next tune.
Phil Selway’s percussion keeps “Feral” really quick, as it has in the first four songs. Thom’s vocals are emotive and affecting. This is where the song sounds most like the Amnesiac recordings. Thom’s vocals are placed well and there is a more natural and organic feel to the song with the instruments. If there were such a thing as a “Treefingers” on this album, I would juxtapose“Feral” with it. As the shortest song on The King Of Limbs, it seems Radiohead wanted “Feral” to be a solid and quick-paced introduction to the album’s single“Lotus Flower”. The synth-heavy Radiohead is back after “Feral”. Right away, Thom’s vocals are beamed down from the heavens and a two-beat clap capitalizes. As The King of Limbs’ first single “Lotus Flower”, is a solid song and Thom’s vocal range is truly shown here. The chorus “There’s an empty space inside my heart where the weeds stay root, so now I set you free, I set you free” shows Thom’s ability to sing a solid tenor, as if we didn’t already know. Selway is steady on percussion with Colin pouring in the slight Kid A mechanical sound in the background. Thom’s vocals are really steady and strong. He has truly developed even more from In Rainbows . “…just to feed your face, ballooning head. Listen to your hear”, Thom sings as the song comes to a close.
Codex starts off with Thom voicing something and then being cut off as the piano moves us. Being my favorite song off the album, I can only say it is nothing short of beautiful. Thom hums begin to haunt us with poignant sound. The song takes a turn from a sad sound to a now hopeful sound when Thom starts to actually sing. The song reminds me of “Motion Picture Soundtrack”. “Sleight of hand, jump off the edge, into a clear lake, no one around” is sung in an uplifting sense. It feels as though this is the end of the album and they are making their exit. Like an ending to a night it goes quiet, then suddenly birds begin to chirp. I think this emulates Radiohead’s cunning musical brilliance. This is the most memorable moment for me on the album as the transition gave me “goose bumps”.
Starting us back up with the birds chirping as if there is new life back in The King Of Limbs. How clever. In the background of the song, Thom’s heard singing “Don’t haunt me, don’t hurt me” repeatedly as he also sings the first verse. The guitar chimes in steadily, as does the beating of a bongo, gluing together “Give Up The Ghost” beautifully. “I think I should give up the ghost, into your arms” is rung through the end of the song with Thom in the background singing “Don’t haunt me, don’t hurt me” steadily throughout the whole song. The song ends with it and the synth sound from Kid A, almost like a movie reel ending its play through. How many times can I call Radiohead clever? They are the most astute band I can think of. Every single aspect of their album is intelligently thought through.
I was expecting “Separator” to sound like something I was longing for, which was another “Jigsaw Falling Into Place” intense song. It wasn’t, but what I did find is Radiohead knew me better than I, myself did, because “Separator” was something I didn’t know I wanted. The sound starts up somewhat slowly with Thom’s vocals and a stable beat from the percussion and guitar. Thom’s vocals are redolent of The Bends sessions here. “I’m a fish now, out of water” confines the listener with Thom’s vocals. “If you think this over, you are wrong” rings through towards the middle of the song with the steady melody coming from the bass and percussion. “Wake me up, wake me now” brings us towards the end of the song and album. But wait, do you really think Radiohead would leave us with nothing to talk about? Fat chance. “If you think this is over, then you’re wrong” is sung in the middle of the song with Colin Greenwood’s bass strumming. This is the conspiracy theorist in me, but I think Radiohead is planning an Amnesiac/Kid A kind of release. I’m predicting they will release another album within the next year. Think about it: Separator is the name of the last song, separator to what? Radiohead is entirely too imaginative for it to mean nothing.
Radiohead is full of surprises. The band does it their way and that’s that. Don’t bother trying to understand why they do what they do, because you may hurt yourself trying to wrap your head around it. They announced on Monday, the 14th the album would be released Saturday, the 19th. And then, to top it all off, they release it a day early. Who does that?! There are no fillers on the The King Of Limbs . The entire album is composed of solid songs. That’s right, there are no intros, no outros to speak of. People are most definitely going to be complaining about this, but the fact of the matter it’s Radiohead and they are not about doing things indisposed. I feel like The King Of Limbs wasn’t rushed, but they have something they’re hiding for sure. I am not complaining about the album length, but I do (and let’s face it, always will) want more Radiohead. The fact that there are only 8 tracks can be disappointing to some, but when you realize the album is still over 40 minutes long you should no longer be disappointed. The King Of Limbs doesn’t leave the listener with an empty feeling, but it leaves the listener wanting more. Something like eating a really good dinner, having your favorite dessert and then wanting even more of your favorite dessert even though your belt is now tight and your shirt is nearly bursting at the seams. Radiohead is going to make heads turn with this album. That is for sure. People were definitely expecting a more organic sound coming off of In Rainbows. The album is something that I would say closely resembles the session between Ok Computer and Amnesiac. There are times when listening to the album that I could hear a slight Kid A sound, but it’s not as apparent as Amnesiac. I’m excited to see what Radiohead does with the“Separator” theory. I’m confident on another release later this year tying the albums together. The “Newspaper” album should reveal more on it and you know I ordered mine already!