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Radiohead: The King Of Limbs
February 18th, 2011 not only marked the one-week anniversary of the ousting of Hosni Mubarak; but it was also the release date of the one of the most anticipated albums of the year, Radiohead’s King of Limbs.
Aside from some independent work with musical producer Nigel Godrich, this is the first commercial release by Radiohead in four years ever since their last album In Rainbows was released for digital download.
Radiohead enthusiasts and casual listeners alike were all anxious to hear the changes that usually come to the band's sound with every new album. Fans hoping for something completely different may be disappointed with King of Limbs, which seems more like an attempt at maintaining their status-quo than presenting a delightful musical experiment like they usually do.
It seems that Radiohead has recycled many familiar musical elements and poured them all into the new album. Elements like the glitch-y beats they introduced with OK Computer and even heavy jazz influences reminiscent of their older albums.
More disappointing is Thom Yorke’s lack of ambition. A great singer and songwriter, it seems that he’s found a profitable niche for his voice; a hauntingly chill moaning that showcases most if not all the songs on the album, completely disregarding the rest of his vocal ability.
Aside from tracks ‘Give up the Ghost’ and ‘Codex,’ you’d think that they’ve just reshuffled the arrangement of one beat, added different lyrics, the same vocals and a slight melody to create the rest of the six tracks on King of Limbs.
‘Lotus Flower’ is the first single released off the album, featuring powerful lyrics, Thom’s haunting vocals and the oh-so-popular fault beat made this single an instant success. However, listeners may be disappointed to find that the majority of the tracks sounding too similar.
‘Little by Little’ has commercial appeal and is one of the catchiest tracks on the album. The track sounds like a variation of ‘Lotus Flower ‘with a heavier emphasis on the melody and easy-to-catch vocals, making it probably the most mainstream track off the album. Although it’s likeable, the track quickly becomes boring, if not all together unbearable.
If you were looking for something completely new on King of Limbs then you’re going to be heavily disappointed; but if you don’t mind a consistent and lovable (yet redundant) sound of Radiohead – then you’ll love it.
Just ask Guns ‘n Roses’ Axl Rose or try and listen to any recent Korn album without cringing. Many bands quit (R.E.M., Sonic Youth), others tone down their sound (Metallica) and some keep regurgitating what they’ve been doing for decades (The Rolling Stones).
Kim Thayil’s guitar traditionally wails around on the dissonant side of the spectrum and singer Chris Cornell still deals out high-pitched screeches like a rock version of Celine Dion – but they have audibly matured. And considering that the grunge kids of two decades ago have aged with them, many will appreciate this more grown-up, adult sound.
After 52 minutes, one question remains: now that Soundgarden seems to have arrived at their definitive sound, will they become one of those established bands that don’t evolve anymore? Like fellow Seattle-ites Pearl Jam, or grandfathers of rock Aerosmith, for example. Or will they continue to develop their sound, like Muse or Radiohead?
Ever since the 2012 release of their double a-side single, ‘Flying To Berlin/Husbands’, Savages have occupied an interesting space in the musical spectrums. With a mixture of old school post-punk and noise rock, they appear to be the perfect cross-section of Siouxsie and the Banshees and Swans. Their frenetic, dark, and sinisterly beautiful style has been receiving rave reviews the world over from critics and fans alike and their latest EP Adore Life is more of the same.
This is an album about love, but one would hesitate to call any of the tracks traditional love songs. Instead of falling into classic song writing tropes about how amazing love is, Savages instead approach the subject matter from a much darker perspective. This is an album about the true power of love, nd how that isn’t always a good thing.
The opening track, ‘The Answer’, heaves with energy from the get go, telling the story of an almost obsessive infatuation, with frontwoman Jehnny Beth (real name Camille Berthomier) repeating the words “If you don't love me/You don't love anybody” throughout the song just to drive home the fact that love can be a dangerous force. The hectic instrumentation provides a binary opposition to Beth’s sweet tones and is the perfect start to the record.
That is not to say that Adore Life is unrelenting in its aggression. This album is a mixture of forceful distortion, British post-punk and torch songs, and nowhere is this more apparent than on the song ‘Adore’. It’s slow, it’s bassy, it’s reverby (is that even a word?) it’s dark, but above all, beautiful. Concluding with a lyrical coda accompanied by a slow crescendo, it sounds like something you would hear in a smoky Paris café at 3AM. Make no mistakes, this is an early contender for one of the best songs of 2016.
Even towards the end of the album, they manage to keep the energy up. The penultimate track, ‘T.I.W.YG’, is almost a sequel to ‘The Answer’ in terms of style and narrative. The instrumentation provides an organised cacophony to truly drive home the fact that, this is what you get when you mess with love.
For what is only a second album, Adore Life shows a surprising maturity from the London-based female foursome. The lyrics are emotive without being contrived, the instrumentation is varied without being schizophrenic and the style is classic without being clichéd. This is more neo-post punk as opposed to post-punk revival and thank god it is, because the last thing we need is another attempt to revive a past genre. Remember the comment about the band being perfect cross-section of Siouxsie and the Banshees and Swans? This album hits the nail on the head, being equal parts a love song to the past and an ode to the fuzzy future.