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3.7 out of 5 stars
The King of Limbs
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65 of 70 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2011
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Definitely worth the wait!

Whenever I see or hear derisive commentary on Radiohead's latest release it lets me know that all is still well with one of the greatest bands in Rock history. Stravinsky provoked a riot when he premiered The Rite of Spring, in 1913, and we can all be thankful that his monumental work outlasted the collective breath of the naysayers. Be thankful that there are musicians like these today who refuse to conform to an agent, a producer, or even public opinion, as they stay true to themselves and defy all the forces that would work to package their genius into a nice tidy, market-ready box. All the notes were made ready hundreds of years ago, and the lines have been created, worn-out, and recreated time and again. I revel in the fact that this band still has what it takes to shock and stun a world that is largely jaded and programmed to the point of numbness.

So, you say, The King of Limbs is not your Radiohead? (Just like the New Coke wasn't the Old Coke) Well, I hope they will never be anyone's Radiohead.

If this were visual art, I might call it Impressionism, or Post-Impressionism. With those, you don't walk up too close to the canvas, or you'll only see the blobs of paint. Same thing here with KOL. Don't listen too closely at first; you might be turned off! But, give it a chance, and absorb it gradually. It is immensely rich stuff!
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263 of 302 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2011
Format: Audio CD
Yes it is atmospheric. This in no way resembles OK Computer or the Bends or any of their proper "rock" albums - but then Radiohead told us not to expect he same approach after Hail To The Thief. And what is the result of this new phase? I'd say it's better music to paint to than blasting in your car with the windows down (yet I do suggest blasting it loud or with so you can hear all of the subtle shifts and changes - it will kill you with a whisper) Most of these songs are centered around loops like Everything in It's Right Place, and from those initial loops other loops are borne, layers are added, drum loops become live drums, chanting begins and the record indeed ends up sounding both innovative as well as ancient as the King of Limbs' namesake - with different limbs of musical ideas twisting out into different directions. Clearly a bold thrust in a direction that they had only been tinkered with before (except if you don't count Yorke's the Eraser.)

This album feels like the follow up to the Eraser more than In Rainbows. The tracks on this album also has the feel of Radiohead's more interesting B-sides, which usually was the arena where they put their more experimental efforts and let themselves hand loose. In the case of this album, all the tracks feel like honest innovations, like the band is seeking new territory, and so in a way it feels like an album of b-sides which in my book is an excellent thing.

This review was originally written only after a few listens, however, after living with this album for a week here are my *personal* thoughts on the individual tracks;)

Bloom - a sonic welcome mat, with some surprises - the Yes-like synths over-arching like the Northern Lights are a nice effect. These are definitely sounds we've never heard from them. Thom's voice swells in an attempt to swallow the cosmos, like the song says, "Open you mouth wide" he could be asking us to think larger, to take in more...

Morning Mr. Magpie - Here we're catching a hint of the muted guitar swagger that began on Amnesiac with I Might Be Wrong and went on to be more apparent in Hail To the Thief. Like strutting through a haunted house. Sexy. Twisted groove.

Little By Little - As with the rest of the album, this song plays with your expectations of what the beat should be. The guitars stand out but are never overstated, feels very Kid A to me, especially with the sounds that lace the last minute of the track, very Everything in its Right Place. This song goes on a tad long for me, but it's so interesting the relationship between the guitar, vocals and beat that it is hypnotic as heck.

Feral - this is SO Amnesiac it kills me, raw and expansive. It feels like digital drums but THESE ARE LIVE DRUMS that go back into digital again! Amazing. Colin's bass work which is especially fascinating on this album weaves in an out of focus. Thom Yorke meanwhile paints us a sonic tapestry with his vocals, sounding like a creature that has been infected by technology but (like well...a feral) is returning to a primal state, a forest where words are not necessary.

Lotus Flower - is the re-invention of the pop song. Tom Yorke released a video for this on his website where he's dancing around like Prince, enjoying the dancability of his music...YES HE INVENTED A LOTUS FLOWER DANCE. Its an amazing video with just him dancing on an empty stage, black and white, that could be construed as part piss take but is certainly celebration of Radiohead's new sound and direction. He has so much hip swinging swagger! The song is so bad ash, he hangs on notes like a junky, addicted. And when he goes to the chorus your heart wants to burst from your chest. Very Idiotech. I also love the sincere. This song is surely about addiction (hence the Odyssey reference) but the lyrics here as well as the other songs are so sincere and poetic. I'm in awe.

Codex - The most devastatingly beautiful track. I can't even find words. The first listen was a holy moment. Even the nay-sayers will have to give that one to the band. Like the dragonflies Thom Yorke mentions here, the horns section swoons over the top of the songs promising the divine. As for the theme of the album, (and I realize I may be overreaching) this song proves that the technology-addicted human can still return to raw beauty of our natural world, enjoy it and hopefully even save it. I also love how the album's beginning wanders into a blippy bloopy forest of darker more mysterious songs but after Codex the final two songs lead us to closure, and reconcilement with the artist's more experimental methods.

Give Up the Ghost - "Don't haunt me...Don't hurt me" chant the boys as if they were five year olds facing down their Boogymen. The song could be seen as a person-to-person plea from one lover to another, but like many songs on this album the romance of this song feels connected to a greater love for the endangered enviroment..... Like the best of Radiohead's work it is hard to nail down, which is wonderful. As for the sound, this is a perfect accoustic Radiohead track akin to the B-side 4 Minute Warning as if they band is all sitting around a circle beating on their acoustic guitars....The song's bridge here is soaring and stupidly beautiful. (The sonic noises at the end sound like insects in the night.)

Separator - What an uplift! The way the other tracks grow in a thoughtful way, this song lifts like an R&B track off the ground, swagger intact. It manages to showcase Phil's drumming, Thom's lyrical genius....by the time the guitars come in with their up-beat lilts, you will be in heaven and that's when Thom promises, "If you think this is over then you're wrong". The final layer is Johnny's spooky reverb guitar that comes out of the 1980s and wipes the plate clean.

---I gave this album 5 stars because, even now having heard it 100 or more times, the album keeps revealing itself to me and is such a potent personification of the new direction the band talks about.

To the naysayers I only suggest listening to it again. Though not using such drastic changes as Paranoid Android, the album will surprise you with its different levels and subtle shifts. They have built a solid world here and it is full of secrets and and sincere beauty for the patient ear. These guys know what they are doing and they are delivering on levels that I have only begun to uncover here. Thank you Radiohead.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2011
Format: Audio CD
Radiohead is my favorite band. Ever. Kid A is my favorite album. Ever. So imagine my surprise that upon first listening to the King of Limbs, my reaction was one of confusion. I was left saying "Huh" instead of "WOW" like I did with In Rainbows. On initial listens, most of the songs sounded the same and the songs themselves just seemed to stay in one place. I thought I was all for Radiohead continuing to change directions and keep mixing things up, but at first I was disappointed with this one.

Today, I can tell you that I am not disappointed with this album and instead, I'm rather fond of it. Perhaps the best thing about Radiohead is how much stuff they have going on in their music. Ever since OK Computer, the band has put in more and more sonic layers, effects and whatever else they could find into their songs. Not to say that they do so randomly or without thought; quite the contrary. All of these things serve the songs and make them better.

I think this is why The King of Limbs was so hard to get into. It is by far the most dense album Radiohead has created. There may only be 8 songs on here, but there's a lot in those songs. At first it can be hard to latch onto something just because it's overwhelming. When I broke all of the elements down and focused, the album made sense.

Even if you don't like The King of Limbs as much as I do, it's more than worth the $6 price tag to check in with the best band working today. Just make sure you give it your time and attention.

EDIT 8/14/12: Bumped to five stars because this is the album I've listened to the most in the last year and a half and I love it more every time I give it a spin.
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68 of 88 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2011
Format: Audio CD
Got this about six hours ago and its been on repeat since. Can't stop listening to it. It reaches the end and I just have to hear it again. That's got to be a good sign, right? I guess, but on first listen I must say I was disappointed. I was expecting/hoping for some brave new mindblowing direction after nearly four years, something to turn popular music on it's ear, stop me in my tracks. This ain't it. But like most Radiohead records, it is a thing of beauty that grows more beautiful and intricate with each listen.

Like many other reviewers suggest, if you like Kid A onwards Radiohead then you will like this. Eventually. If you are longing for the days of Creep or even Paranoid Android, then you need to back away now before your feelings get hurt. But maybe instead you should decide to trust who Radiohead are now, crack your mind open a little and let them take you somewhere no other band can. Having been listening to this album for six straight hours that's what I would do.

Much as I like it though, I can't give The King of Limbs 5 stars. I believe Radiohead are well capable of producing a mindblowing, stop me in my tracks, rock record and until I get it I'm withholding the 5th star. I guess I'm one of the Paranoid Android crew after all.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 27, 2011
Format: Audio CD
I got this cd the day it came out, and it's taken me a while to get to a point where I feel I can review it, because it's taken me this long to really get into it. 'The King Of Limbs' is a WEIRD record.

TKOL is a hard album to get into, no doubt about it. The songs are more focused on rhythm and textures than pop hooks, and it shows as soon as you press play. If you're looking for 'In Rainbows 2' or another 'Kid A' you're going to be very disappointed.

That being said, this is not a bad album. It will probably take you several listens to get into it. This is another 'Hail To The Thief' type album- in that it's a transitional record, and obviously so. The next record, if there is one, will probably not sound like this.

I recommend starting with "Little By Little", which sounds almost like it might have been written around the 'In Rainbows' period, in that it has that weird kind of Thom Yorke "seduction song" feel to it. It has one of the few easily accessible hook-y melodies on the album. "Lotus Flower" also has a strong melody floating over a beat-heavy soundscape. "Mr. Magpie" dates from 2000 or 2001 apparently, and its (relatively) more straightforward melody makes it probably the most accessible song on the record.

The only real issue I have with this record is the sequencing. "Bloom" is a good track, but it isn't a strong opener. I feel "Mr. Magpie" should have had that honor, with Bloom being placed somewhere in the middle; maybe before or after the instrumental "Feral".
I've heard a lot of complaints about the packaging, but honestly, I download most of my music from amazon, and when I actually do buy a cd, the case gets tossed in a box in the closet, so it really doesn't matter to me. Besides, Radiohead has an awesome website with plenty of related artwork and stuff I can copy and download if I want.

This isn't going to be one of Radiohead's classic albums like 'Ok Computer', 'Kid A' or 'In Rainbows'. 'The King Of Limbs' is a snapshot of a band that's still experimenting after 20 years together. It's weird, difficult, and rewarding, but you gotta give it a chance, because it's worth it. It just takes a while to grow on you.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2012
Format: Audio CD
I am coming to Radiohead from the back end. Growing up an 80's kid with U2, Echo and the Bunnymen, REM, The Smiths, The Cure, Lloyd Cole, etc., I found I did not expand my repertoire much in the 90's, when Radiohead was taking off. BOY, did I miss out.

I saw TKOL in my library, realized I had never heard a Radiohead album in it's entirety before, and decided to borrow it.

Think Edvard Munch and Hugo Simberg (the album's artwork), and add music and perfectly enmeshed lyrics. I've heard all the adjectives: atmospheric, organic, sophisticated and thematic. It's all true. And now, having heard all Radiohead's albums since picking this one up, I have to say I prefer the more current manifestations of the band. In Rainbows and TKOL are brilliant albums. You certainly hear where Radiohead is going from listening to earlier releases--Kid A, Amnesiac--but their last 2 albums are, in my opinion, more mature, sophisticated and cohesive. I like where they're heading.

Favorite tracks:
Bloom
Morning Mr. Magpie
Little By Little
Codex
Give Up the Ghost
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 12, 2011
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I got this album today and enjoyed a lot...a rainy, stormy afternoon what else you should do if you're all alone...hear Radiohead! If you're under controlled medication or high sure you will have a good time with this album. I wasn't skeptical about the negative reviews and when see the cheap price I have no doubt and make a pre-order, it's the cheapest pseudo-digipack version ever seen but the artwork is cool but no lyrics, I like all the song except for Feral that I guess that was a joke...anyway I'm happy Radiohead still make some music
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 5, 2012
Format: Audio CD
Fantastic album, in classic Radiohead fashion. When it first came out, I was expecting another In Rainbows and thought it was garbage on first listen. After I went through a tough break up and had a 18 hour drive from Columbus, Ohio to Winter Park, Florida to get through and I listened to it multiple times, it earned my respect and deep, heart-felt love.

What an immense feeling of relief and letting go this album leaves with its audience.

In Rainbows is all about the ephemeral nature of life and dying.

In a sense (in my opinion), The King of Limbs is an album of acceptance of death, all kinds of death. Moving on. Et cetera.

If you don't like it after a first listen and really enjoyed both Kid A and In Rainbows, and all of Radiohead's previous work, please give it a second chance.

I'm telling you. Radiohead doesn't fail to disappoint. Except with the Daily Mail. But that's a different story. ha.
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42 of 59 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon February 19, 2011
Format: Audio CD
Radiohead announced the release of their new album "The King Of Limbs" earlier in the week, and it was offered for download without fanfare a day earlier than scheduled. This album is very electronic and experimental with very little guitar, similar to "Amnesiac" or even Thom Yorke's solo effort "The Eraser".

At 8 tracks clocking in at about 37 minutes, the album opens with the atmospheric pseudo-Jazz "Bloom" with Thom Yorke's vocals soaring over skittery beats. "Morning Mr Magpie" is an ambient piece with some chiming guitars and a jabbing groove. While "Little By Little" has some Middle Eastern sounds thrown into the mix. "Feral" is a dubstep instrumental laced with fleeting vocal bursts.

"Lotus Flower" is the lead-off single, with Yorke's falsetto over a haunting beat-laden soundscape. "Codex" is a string-swathed piano ballad with Yorke cooing "Jump off the end/into a clear lake, no one around" - typically oblique lyrics with sufficient humanity for the discerning. The acoustic ballad "Give Up The Ghost" is set to gently strummed guitar with ghostly harmonies swirling around, while closing cut "Separator" raises the tempo with groovy beats.

Just as it was released unexpectedly, this is a grower that grabs you when you least expect it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2013
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Thought I wouldn't really care for this. My seventeen year-old communist philosopher/writer son loves it. Now I own it. You win, kid!
"I TOLD you so, DAD!" Okay, so maybe you're 54. Maybe your mid life crisis has been over a LONG time. If you appreciate creative musicians who aren't afraid to experiment with their talent (and who really don't care whether you like them or not), you should buy it. Warning: This is NOT touchy, feel good, honey, muffin, pumpkin music like you hear in airports and dentist offices. It's not feeling; it's attitude, melted, mixed, and amplified.
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