WHERE: XL Recordings
Bloody hell it’s arrived. After performing a disappearing act that proved to be almost perfect and suddenly dropping two singles – causing me to publish an article complete with a Buzzfeed-esque title – Radiohead have returned to the music scene with the release of new album A Moon Shaped Pool. With The King Of Limbs proving to be a rather stuttered follow up to the fantastic In Rainbows I was a little bit sceptical about this new record, but fortunately it is one that stands up tall beside the 2007 release.
The first two singles – Burn The Witch and Daydreaming – kicks things off by laying down the foundations and setting up the overall sound of the record. The former offers a heavily layered sound complete with strings, synth and bass which come together to produce a rhythm that’s overwhelming with urgency. Thom Yorke also provides the drawling vocal we’ve all come to love and it’s a great way to get a record started. Daydreaming is a much more sombre, longer affair with some beautiful piano chords performed alongside some watery synthesisers which seem to flood the airwaves just enough to realise that there are no drums present. It’s a beautiful tune.
Decks Dark follows this up with an instrumental that features some uplifting piano tune against Yorke’s vocals and very subtle percussion in the background. Radiohead pack this track full of grooves as the bassline delivers a deep-rooted riff that’s soon enhanced by some holier than thou backing vocals which once again adds to the overall unnerving tone of A Moon Shaped Pool. There are tons of intricacies to this track that it’ll take a couple listens to hear them properly, such as the twinkling piano and the sketchy guitar riffs. This groove focus spills over onto Ful Stop, which could easily have been the slightly more off-kilter older brother of In Rainbows’ Jigsaw Falling Into Place.
A Moon Shaped Pool is a beautiful record that offers up a ton of sadness which has become a trademark of Radiohead’s lyricism. With the news coming out last year of Thom Yorke separating from his wife it’s not a surprise to see this new record revolve around all of the feelings that come from such a sad event. The instrumentals are very well crafted, coming strong with layers upon layers of sounds which doesn’t sound as cluttered as TKOL and instead allows some breathing space for Yorke to meander through with his seriously pained vocals.
This isn’t a record that aims to appeal to the masses right away, there’s no “hit” or track that could be played amongst a playlist – it’s a record that warrants being played in one session. It’s sombre in its approach and offers a lot of heartwrenching sentiments that pulls on your emotions throughout. There’s a ton of sadness present here, right up until the ending. Closing track True Love Waits brings an end to the album without any hint of a silver lining or the end of the tunnel or anything even remotely optimistic. It just keeps on swimming in sadness, and it’s very hard not to be moved by it. It’s a beautiful record, and one that definitely needs full attention when listening to it.