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Radiohead: 'King Of Limbs' – 1.5 out of 5 stars

Tags: Music Reviews

“What the Hell?” is the first thing that comes to mind after listening to the new Radiohead album. King Of Limbs sounds like a high school kid’s first experience playing around with the loops on the software program Sony Acid.

The first track, “Bloom,” is absolutely horrendous. In fact, the first three songs of the album just sound terrible. Nothing in the songs fits – it’s almost like the drums are on a completely different time signature from the rest of the song. You don’t have to be a musician to understand. Just play it over a speaker, and you’ll be able tell that something is just not right.

It’s hard to believe this is the same band that released OK Computer and The Bends. It’s as if Radiohead sat down, had a meeting and discussed how they could best piss off its fans.

This is probably what they were thinking: “You know what would be great? If we had every instrument play its own part, not in unison. And instead of writing lyrics, we could just hum and whine everything.” To all you hipsters that think this sounds cool: Yes, the album is unique, but it’s because no one would ever think of doing something this dumb.

What’s most surprising about this album is that Radiohead fans actually have the chance to buy it for $50. Radiohead is calling it a newspaper album, filled with pieces of artwork. This album isn’t even worth the digital price of $9, let alone $50.

Although “The Lotus Flower” and the last two songs on the album are actually pretty damn good, those songs alone can’t make up for the monstrosity that is the rest of Limbs.

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Entry comments

Feb. 21, 2011 at 9:16 p.m.

jose: You are absolutely horrendous

Feb. 21, 2011 at 9:39 p.m.

Sean: Of course. I assume Radiohead tries to make every album like that, but perhaps they've finally succeeded. Listen to it three times, then put it aside for six months then listen to it again.

Feb. 21, 2011 at 11:17 p.m.

Dick Henderson: This article is absolutely ridiculous. Why would Radiohead or any artist ever want to recreate what they've already done. Not only have they been writing music together for about 26 years and I'm sure would get sick of recreating OK Computer over and over, but their album most likely reflects the styles of music they probably listen to. And besides, the album isn't even that "out there." Bloom is most definitely in 4/4, and even if it wasn't, it's not the first time Radiohead or anybody would've used polyrhythms in a song. It's one thing to not like or understand it, but to say it's a monstrosity built by the evil Radiohead to piss off fans is absurd. It's not out of line with anything they've done at all, and you don't have to be a hipster or a fanboy or whatever to like it. You're also forgetting that their evolution and pushing against the grain is what makes their albums so great. Neither OK Computer or Kid A were expected to be commercial successes, and that's why people love them, because they never were never fake and stuck with their gut.

Feb. 21, 2011 at 11:52 p.m.

Bob: This is the worst review I've ever read.

Feb. 22, 2011 at 12:01 a.m.

Highbrow: This is a douchey review.

Feb. 22, 2011 at 2:32 p.m.

Dave: I personally feel as though every Radiohead album shocks me at first, and I usually take a bit to let it soak in. They're an acquired taste and after listening to The King of Limbs the first time, I thought it was a bit dull. As I've played it a few times, it's grown on me more and more. Thom Yorke is subtle, and I don't think you do the band justice with you're over generalized review. Worse, you don't do fans justice because you don't break down the album and discuss individual aspects of the songs you felt weren't great. Saying "It's horrendous", "the first three songs are terrible"; come on mate, give me some details. You're not backing up any of your claims except some vague notion that the band isn't playing in rhythm (I think Bloom might actually be in 4/4, but I'm no artist). And finally, you didn't even mention the release of half of an album at a time. Separator, the final song on the album so far released, is supposed to separate the first half of the album from the second. Thom Yorke even uses the lyrics, "if you think this is over, you're wrong". Sorry brother, but I think you're wrong. Better luck next time.

Feb. 22, 2011 at 4:07 p.m.

Parker: Having bought the higher definition album for $14, I feel as if I can speak to how it sounds on speakers. Only citing two Radiohead albums from the late 90s, I feel like this critic probably hasn't picked up an LP by the band in some time and doesn't even know what their trajectory sounds like. Where the critic feels they're being clever by making a mock dialogue between the band, it actually feels like they had no idea what to write. That the critic only goes so far to describe songs as "pretty damn good" or "horrendous" doesn't really give the reader an auditory picture of what the album is like. Also, if you don't know the correct name of the lead single, I'm going to have to question how close attention you paid to the album

Feb. 22, 2011 at 8:22 p.m.

Youforgotsomealbums: After reading this article, I have learned nothing about the album. But, I have learned that Ryan Shiner has a limited vocabulary and a distaste for different opinions.

Feb. 22, 2011 at 11:39 p.m.

shazam: Clearly, you only made a one-listen, jump to write conclusion on this release. The reason that they remain a vital and current band is because they don't release albums like the Bends and OK Computer over and over again. How about a little gray in between your black and white? Maybe if it sounded a bit more like Coldplay, you'd be more positive. Sorry that's not the case.

Feb. 23, 2011 at 11:15 p.m.

Caleb.S.: "...it’s almost like the drums are on a completely different time signature from the rest of the song. You don’t have to be a musician to understand." Oh, I forgot the part where people who don't understand music get to make rules for music to adhere to. I forgot about the part where music had rules in the first place. It's called "pushing the boundaries" bud. Musicians have been doing it since the beginning of time. How do you think art progresses and evolves? And just to reiterate, yes, the first song is polyrhythmic. But I guess you would have to be a musician to understand what that means.

Feb. 24, 2011 at 2:52 p.m.

Robert: It's your job as a music reviewer to describe the music on the album. I learned is that it's "terrible," "absolutely horrendous," "dumb," and "pretty damn good." I want to know more than whether or not you liked it; I want to know why. Also, the fourth paragraph reads like it was written by an 8th grader.

Feb. 24, 2011 at 11:34 p.m.

Teeth: This article is just another example of how shit writers can get good stories when they suck up to editors at this paper. It didn't cross any MOVE editors' minds that when reviewing a Radiohead album, you need a writer that has at least a hair of musical knowledge? When you're going to completely insult the more avant-garde nuances of the album, you need to make an intelligent argument instead of calling people "hipsters" for liking it. If this was an attempt to get traffic to the site, well you succeeded, but this is not journalism. This is written like the screenplay for a Youtube reaction video.

Feb. 26, 2011 at midnight

Smitey: I am sure you love Miley Cyrus. This review was useless.

Feb. 26, 2011 at 2:05 p.m.

Raab Richmond: There are no laws in music? If you have any experience in music, you know that there are laws that were founded by Bach. And for any of you to say that this article is shit, you write a better article. Frankly, I find radiohead the antithesis of music and art. Thom Yorkes "2 Minutes of Silence"? Really? Might as well of called it Thom Yorkes "Helen Keller Ears" because not even a deaf woman would not want to hear Radioheads winy bullshit.

Feb. 27, 2011 at 5:31 p.m.

Leonardo: Thom Yorke's "Two Minutes of Silence" is actually a shameless ripoff of John Cage's "4'33." Just goes to show that Yorke doesn't have an ounce of creativity in his body.

Feb. 27, 2011 at 6:22 p.m.

Don Way: I feel that this review has a bit of a bias going into it. I like Radiohead and after hearing the album I'd agree that this is nothing compared to their old sound, but rather a new sound and if you aren't a hardcore listener, I think it'd take awhile to get used to. But I agree that deeming it as awful without any solid support as to why it is as awful as you state isn't the best way to go about reviewing an album. Not to mention that calling out all 'hipsters' is unreasonable since more people than just hipsters listen to Radiohead.

March 1, 2011 at 12:49 a.m.

Ted Brakeman: @Raab Richmond...First of all, no, there aren't laws in music. There are some conventions, and some of those conventions stem from J.S. Bach, not to mention Handel, Mozart, and Beethoven. Bach wasn't founding any musical "laws," he may be the father of western tonal harmony, but he was building on centuries of musical tradition. To say "there are laws (in music) that were founded by Bach" is ridiculous; Bach wasn't creating laws, he was experimenting, and just because what he came up with was later adopted as standard doesn't make it law. Just because you don't understand it or like it doesn't make it "the antithesis of art and music." Since when did art have to be aesthetically appealing? As for the "Two Minutes of Silence" it was a fundraiser for "Remembrance Day" in honor of veterans you douche. I was going to write something about how shitty the article is, but most everyone else seems to have that covered. And yes, I could write a better article. I could write a better article if I had only listened to the first 5 seconds of each track.

March 2, 2011 at 2:57 p.m.

Alex: This is an awful review. Tip: Listen to more music. If you only listen to pop (anything on the charts, of any genre), you just won't understand other types of music. The King of Limbs = Transcending

March 8, 2011 at 11:53 a.m.

Zach: @Raab Richmond To say that this is the antithesis to art and music is to completely ignore the past 150 years in art and music. Second of all, can the Maneater actually get someone who is intelligent to write a music review? This article and section is a joke. "To all you hipsters", not only is it an attempt at being derogatory, it's senseless and misguided. Radiohead is a universally acclaimed band, this isn't Neon Indians or Deerhunter. I could have shit out a better review. This album is by no means perfect, but the level of writing displayed here by a writer of one of the supposedly best journalism schools in the country is absolutely revolting.

April 12, 2011 at 3:46 p.m.

King Of limbs part 2: Could this be the king of limbs part 2? Seems legit... http://thekingoflimbspart-2.blogspot.com/

June 9, 2012 at 10:19 a.m.

Travis: Yes, the recording process may have been spontaneous with a feeling of stream of consciousness, but that is so much of what makes jamming fun for the listener and player. Jazz musicians may like this record more. You have skilled musicians throwing down ideas and trying new things. If you saw them play live, you're outlook will change drastically. It's one thing to record something in a conceptual way, but it's another thing to learn to play it live with tact and discipline

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