First, I want to give you some background. I’m a huge Radiohead fan. I’ve been to 4 of their concerts and I have bought every one of their CD’s on launch day since OK Computer. I am also not a trained music critic. I simply like music, much the way many of you probably do. During the last week I have frequently listened to The King of Limbs and I have to say I am disappointed. Despite hearing the album in full 8-10 times, it hasn’t grown on me as much as I had hoped. Radiohead’s last two albums, Hail to the Thief and In Rainbows, were both great and In Rainbows in particular really added to Radiohead’s legacy as amazing musicians. I don’t think this album does. In fact, I would go as far as to say that The Kings of Limbs is the worst Radiohead album ever made.
It is not without some must have tracks. Codex is simply beautiful but feels like it ends a little too abruptly. I feel like this one could have been better served with more time given to the ending like one of my favorites, Videotape from In Rainbows. Little by Little is a typical Radiohead song. Minimalistic, but one that grows on you the more times you hear it. Give up the Ghost is so mellow it can put you to sleep if it wasn’t for the continuous base drum that continues throughout. This is another one that is not too far outside of the realm of what the band has done before. Thom’s voice is used to good effect and the backing vocals work perfectly. Lotus Flower sounds like a mix between one of the Hail to the Thief’s falsetto based tracks and In Rainbows’ guitar driven songs resulting in a good mix for most Radiohead fans and will likely be an album favorite for many. Morning Mr. Mapgpie has an ongoing fast faced guitar part thrown in throughout and builds as the song goes along. This one took me a few listens to really begin enjoying but has grown on me over the last week.
The tracks I can live without include Bloom which is just a constant, odd tempo drum beat with some reaching reverberated vocals on top. Feral never seems to go anywhere despite its strong beginning. This track is particular left me more disappointed than the others as the beginning sounds like its building to a fevered pitch that Radiohead does so well, but in this case that apex was never reached. The final track of the album, Separator, is drum and bass driven and the vocals are sparse and underwhelming. That being said, this is one of those tracks that still could grow on me.
In summary, this album has taken a lot more work for me to enjoy than either Hail to the Thief or In Rainbows, both of which immediately punched me in the gut with their goodness. All of that being said, I’m not giving up on the album or the band. Their worst album is still better than most artists’ best. If you are a fan, this is still a must buy. If you aren’t a fan already, I would pick up any of Radiohead’s other albums first. Even for fans, this album takes a bit of work to love.