Radiohead's new album hits the web
May 8, 2016 10:04 AM   Subscribe

Five years after Radiohead's last album, myriad hints from the band marked May 1st -- Dawn Chorus Day -- as the date something big was gonna happen. The band ateased the web with rumours_of songs new and old, cryptic artwork, ominous mailers. But after years of waiting, nothing came... literally. Optimistic fans trying to pick up every last crumb_were left climbing up the walls_as they were shown how to disappear completely, with the band's official site and social media fading out again, slowly dissolving little by little, one by one, before their very eyes. It all came back Tuesday, as mysterious chirps and inkblots ushered in the sinister claymation music video for long-awaited track "Burn the Witch" [prev.], followed days later by an arresting P.T. Anderson-directed film for the somber elegy "Daydreaming." While Radiohead's ninth album is not here now physically till June, it's available for download come 8th May_(today!) at 2 PM EDT on It's gonna be a glorious day.

Some interesting covers on the newest tracks are already out there -- for "Burn the Witch": And for "Daydreaming": On the review front, Pitchfork loves both tracks, and theneedledrop's Anthony Fantano had good things to say about "Burn the Witch," with a full album review forthcoming. As far as fans go, though, YouTuber Jor-Els Alexandria says it all. Speaking of which, the karma police are happy to report that those naysayers who vowed to eat a photo of Thom Yorke if the album dropped this month will find themselves getting a lot more fiber in their diets.

In terms of analysis, the animators behind "Burn the Witch" claim the video and its witch-hunting content was confronting the angst of the European refugee crisis, with the plot borrowed from the cult 1973 horror classic The Wicker Man and visuals inspired by the idyllic children's program Trumpton. The meaning of "Daydreaming" remains more abstruse -- fan theories range from a metaphorical memory palace for a civilization destroyed by climate change to a eulogy about Yorke's sudden separation from longtime partner Rachel Owen last year, something supported by the denouement's subtle backmasked vocals.

Musically, Tumblr blog The King of Gear offers insight into "Burn the Witch"'s densely layered composition, which makes interesting use of col legno to striking (heh) effect. These and other orchestral flourishes are the clear handiwork of Jonny Greenwood, the band's virtuoso guitarist who has developed a passion for string sections, as heard in side projects like Bodysong, Popcorn Superhet Receiver, the London Contemporary Orchestra, and the film scores for P.T. Anderson films There Will Be Blood, The Master, and Inherent Vice, as well as the luscious one-off "Spectre," (which was rejected as the most recent Bond theme in favor of Sam Smith's "Writing's on the Wall").

Radiohead previously on the blue:
posted by Rhaomi (78 comments total) 98 users marked this as a favorite
Well done as always, Rhaomi. Ful stop.
posted by timshel at 10:08 AM on May 8, 2016 [16 favorites]

posted by Fizz at 10:15 AM on May 8, 2016

Just over 30 minutes before we learn how much of this Pitchfork article is completely off the mark: 19 unreleased Radiohead songs that could be on their next album.
posted by Sonny Jim at 10:24 AM on May 8, 2016

reports out there that the album got posted on Google play but taken down. it is called A Moon Shaped Pool. reading the final song on the track list made me literally scream but i don't want to spoil it.
posted by JimBennett at 10:38 AM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Burn The Witch is amazing, song and video. Wow.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:53 AM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Looks like it's called A Moon Shaped Pool
posted by Rinku at 10:56 AM on May 8, 2016

that's no moon
posted by thelonius at 10:59 AM on May 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

special edition purchased, album started, here we go.
posted by JimBennett at 11:02 AM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Sigh. No Silent Spring. :(
posted by Sonny Jim at 11:02 AM on May 8, 2016

Ooh! Annnnd purchased.
posted by impishoptimist at 11:04 AM on May 8, 2016

The tracks are in alphabetical order.
posted by inconsequentialist at 11:05 AM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

thom sounds younger on Decks Dark than he has in years and years
posted by JimBennett at 11:12 AM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

But if you purchase the vinyl you have to wait for a download card? Booo
posted by Going To Maine at 11:13 AM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Just finished my first listen. Looks like Radiohead's continuing on the sad trip-hop tip they were on in King of Limbs, but this time there's more orchestration and more pathos. Right off the bat it strikes me as good but not mindblowing. It'll probably be a grower though. I really dug The Numbers.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 11:13 AM on May 8, 2016

But if you purchase the vinyl you have to wait for a download card? Booo

Yeah, that's a poor decision. Plus the $10 shipping charge, I'm probably going to just wait for it to appear at my FLRS to get it on vinyl, and instead get a digital download now.
posted by miguelcervantes at 11:15 AM on May 8, 2016

special edition came with a download and free shipping (to Massachusetts)
posted by JimBennett at 11:17 AM on May 8, 2016

Oh how delightful. It's a beautiful spring day, and I've got a smartphone full of brand new Radiohead tracks. Time for a walk.
posted by dis_integration at 11:21 AM on May 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

totally blown away by Ful Stop
posted by JimBennett at 11:24 AM on May 8, 2016

Wait, what did I just do...?

September, you say.

If this is all lies, and I've just bought a very expensive CDR of drunken ukulele covers, I'll ... I'll ... I'll...

Probably do it again next time.
posted by Grangousier at 11:45 AM on May 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

Oh goddammit I have a property law exam in the morning that I'm supposed to be studying for. This gets my 52 minutes anyway.
posted by fifthrider at 11:54 AM on May 8, 2016

I don't even like Radiohead and I liked both of those pre-release tracks.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:58 AM on May 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

(You can, of course, also get the album on Amazon Digital or iTunes, or stream it on Tidal or Apple Music. Google Play gets no love.)
posted by Going To Maine at 12:01 PM on May 8, 2016

Really digging the strings on this album. (thanks jonny g)
posted by btfreek at 12:03 PM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Still no indication if/when it's going to get a Spotify release.
posted by Sonny Jim at 12:06 PM on May 8, 2016

The song "Silent Spring", previewed by Yorke last December, is now called "The Numbers", and the final album arrangement might be the most stunning Radiohead song ever. Sonny Jim, fear not, you're going to be VERY happy.
posted by dbiedny at 12:06 PM on May 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

This is great.
posted by ageispolis at 12:15 PM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Pitchfork has a decent breakdown of track histories, including a suggestion that it will be for sale on Google Play (if you are more patient than I):
The album is also available on iTunes and Apple Music and TIDAL. (Google Play originally put the album on sale over an hour before the previously-announced 7 p.m. BST release time, but it was quickly taken down.)
Several songs on the album have made their way to the public before today. The album features “True Love Waits,” which they've performed many times over the years, but never recorded outside of their 2001 live EP I Might Be Wrong. Thom Yorke performed “Desert Island Disk” during a Paris show last year. “Present Tense” was also performed at December's climate change concert, and it dates back to 2008. “The Numbers” is another song Yorke performed in December—it was then referred to as “Silent Spring.” Radiohead debuted “Identikit” and “Ful Stop” on tour in 2012.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:23 PM on May 8, 2016

(You can, of course, also get the album on Amazon Digital or iTunes, or stream it on Tidal or Apple Music. Google Play gets no love.)

Suspect Google is being shunned following their 1 hour early leak of the whole album onto Play.
posted by Hobo at 12:32 PM on May 8, 2016

This whole album is deeply weird and I love it.
posted by timshel at 12:36 PM on May 8, 2016

The album is awesome. So much strings.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:40 PM on May 8, 2016

I skimmed the tracklist, and I got caught on the final track title: True Love Waits.

I'm not a live-show-edition tracker, so I was in love with True Love Waits from the 2001 official live version. The new version is pretty, but so sleepy, but follows the prior track well. Still interesting to see it as the closing track in both places. (Thank you, everybody. Good night.)
posted by filthy light thief at 12:40 PM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Guys, did Radiohead kind of just release a folk album? The record weird and amazing and well titled -- if you had to sum up the sound in one word, there would be lots of worse choices than "lunar."
posted by Rinku at 1:09 PM on May 8, 2016 [5 favorites]

Definitely thought “folk” at a few points. It isn’t really - I think they just released a Coldplay album. But, you know, a good one.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:40 PM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Lemonade. Hopelessness. The Colour in Anything. A Moon Shaped Pool.

This has honestly been two of the best weeks of my life. THANK YOU

I'm just got it, I'm off to walk and listen and probably cry.
posted by special agent conrad uno at 1:41 PM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

Those pointing out the oddly timeless '70s childhood-memory vibe to all this are right. The songs are like wormholes to another timeline, where the air might be cleaner, but the seeds of our destruction are already sown.
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:55 PM on May 8, 2016 [5 favorites]

I think it may be their best album since Kid A/Amnesiac. It's sooooo good. It's exactly what I didn't know I wanted from them. Especially after the let-down of King of Limbs.
posted by Windigo at 2:40 PM on May 8, 2016 [4 favorites]

It's a trippy, folky, jazzy, psychedelic, weird, cinematic, James-Bond-Themey, and 100% RADIOHEAD and I'm in love in the way I fell in love with albums when I was 16.
posted by Windigo at 2:44 PM on May 8, 2016 [8 favorites]

Lemonade. Hopelessness. The Colour in Anything. A Moon Shaped Pool.

One of these things is not like the rest - Lemonade is the only one that stands out for me. I'm going to have to listen to them all again, but when set against Beyoncé's emotions, Anohni, James Blake and Radiohead aren't holding a candle. Pretty little flickers, but nothing like that torch, which burns brighter thanks to the visual album.

The biggest mark against Radiohead is that this is their quietest album to date, as I see it. It's not a bad thing, but again when trying to set it against those other albums that also touch on current times and events, it's all a bit soft-spoken. Unfortunately, on first listen I'm kind of siding with the "kind of like a better Coldplay album," but this comes from the disservice of being heard as background music in a noisy house. Tomorrow I'll try again, just me and headphones.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:21 PM on May 8, 2016

Gosh, I just don't see how it can be seen as quiet or Coldplay-ish. It's definitely light on the electric guitar and drums, and instead is all about the acoustic guitar, piano, and strings. So is it rockin'? No, but it's so layered and LUSH and hypnotic. It's a different beast than Lemonade (which I love) but I would say they're both equally powerful, and that they are different flavors of the best music to come out in recent memory.
posted by Windigo at 3:34 PM on May 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

That music made my house wonderful.
posted by Oyéah at 4:12 PM on May 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

Long-awaited is an understatement.

NB: for those of you with Amazon Prime, they automatically show up in Cloud Player upon purchase— no need to download and sync if you're like me and can't wait for the physical release at the LRS.
posted by a halcyon day at 4:35 PM on May 8, 2016

A new Radiohead album in the world brings the requisite hosannahs and hatred we see with every Radiohead release.
So I and some friends have assembled the following BINGO card to help you keep track of the fan reaction to LP9
posted by Senor Cardgage at 5:04 PM on May 8, 2016 [5 favorites]

This is like sad dynamite in my ears. So good.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:11 PM on May 8, 2016 [4 favorites]

I'd like to know the logic being the alphabetical tracklist because there's a lack of cohesion to the whole thing that bugs me. Love all the strings everywhere but at least one Reckoner / Jigsaw / Lotus Flower type of song would've been great. Present Tense is a big let down (cough) when compared to the live version but we finally have a decent studio cut of True Love Waits.

Eh. I need to listen to it again.
posted by Diskeater at 5:33 PM on May 8, 2016

I'm stunned and incredibly appreciative about how very dense this is. After reviewing In Rainbows for myself a few years ago, the thought occurred to me on first listen to go after this one and to try to assimilate it into concepts. Attempting to write a music review at this point is deeply absurd, I've realized; there's simply so much emotional and textural content. Pensive, wispy, tragic, sunlight-through-the-snowflake-napkin-cutouts; scared, lurid, breathless. And somehow: two steps removed from catharsis.

And yet it's gorgeous. The lyrics are palpably personal this time around. Have they been so self-reflective in previous albums? I'm finding that if I approach any of my non-favorites so far and try to pick out things I like about them, it's eminently possible. That's a sure sign of a grower to me... I can't wait to give this about a dozen more listens so each song becomes readily familiar.
posted by a good beginning at 6:31 PM on May 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

This album was worth the wait, and that was a damned long wait.

My only real complaint is the title. What the hell is that?

Amazing post Rhaomi.
posted by moorooka at 7:46 PM on May 8, 2016

here's the theory on the title and artwork, which i read elsewhere but can't ditch:

a moon shaped pool. people are joking about a round pool but the moon is not a circle, it is a sphere. so a moon shaped pool would be a sphere covered in water, or the earth after global climate change causes the sea levels to rise. the cover is a literal representation of that moon shaped pool. the negative space is a contorted North America (minus Mexico), upside down. you can see Florida and California up top, and the great lakes are filled in with pockets of liquid. the coasts are surrounded by oily water. apparently this artwork was produced by the wind and then photographed by the band's creative team, which if true is one more sign of them being put on earth by some god to warn us of our folly
posted by JimBennett at 8:07 PM on May 8, 2016

I'd like to know the logic being the alphabetical tracklist because there's a lack of cohesion to the whole thing that bugs me.

I've seen some complaints about the alphabetical order meaning it's unsequenced, but surely it's as sequenced as ever; the band chose the song titles, after all, and were perfectly willing to do things like rename a song once known by a title starting with S to a title starting with N so that it would come before rather than after one starting with P. They probably figured that "Burn the Witch" was a great opener, which it is, and that nothing could follow "True Love Waits", and went from there.

Since switching to headphone listening rather than tinny computer speakers I don't think of this as their quietest album, or even particularly ballad-heavy; it sounds epic. It just doesn't have lots of guitar solos to cut through background noise (though there are some).
posted by rory at 2:24 AM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

The hype for this was immense, and at least on the first few listens it far exceeds however I might have thought it would sound. The complete change in tone/meaning of True Love Waits is devastating.

As wonderful as it was to follow the BBC 6 Music live listening party yesterday, there is so much more depth to the sound that really does require headphones, as everyone is saying.

So excited for the live shows.
posted by wingless_angel at 2:46 AM on May 9, 2016

A new Radiohead album in the world brings the requisite hosannahs and hatred we see with every Radiohead release.
So I and some friends have assembled the following BINGO card to help you keep track of the fan reaction to LP9
I like that BINGO card, but in all honesty there could be a whole series of them, based on what I've seen so far:
"This sounds just like Coldplay/Muse/Travis and I hate it"
"This doesn't sound anywhere nearly enough like Coldplay/Muse/Travis and I hate it"
"This album didn't have the visceral effect "Creep" had on me when I was 17 and still had all my hair, and I personally blame Radiohead for that"
"Sam Smith is so much more relevant to who we are in 2016 than Radiohead"
posted by Sonny Jim at 3:30 AM on May 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

The cover seems like Antarctica dissipating.
posted by panaceanot at 4:15 AM on May 9, 2016

I've been listening to the whole album four times by now, sorry to say it, but it sucks. I don't know where to start so I'll start by saying i won't pay to listen to these songs in a concert. 'Burn the witch' seemed a good start and by far it's the best song of the album. Daydreaming seems like a rehash of old tunes (motion picture soundtrack). 'Deck darcs' sounds like a badly rehashed Massive Attack song.

I'll stop the hate by saying that Thom solo 'The Eraser' was by far superior, that after 15 years practicing piano, all he can do is some silly loops, man take a guitar and let it go out, and most of all they just threw shit at 'True Love Waits'. I'm really disappointed.
posted by nims at 5:18 AM on May 9, 2016

I've been listening to the whole album four times by now, sorry to say it, but it rules.
posted by panaceanot at 5:21 AM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry nims... I guess we have different views. RADIOHEAD :)
posted by panaceanot at 5:32 AM on May 9, 2016

Also from the bingo card:

Fevered public vow to not listen to a second of it until lossless FLACs are released

No problemo! You can even get a 24-bit WAV so you can argue endlessly with your friends over whether that's a moth farting at the end of 'True Love Waits'!


I did think 'Burn the Witch' was the strongest track on the first listen through, but after sitting my ass down somewhere quiet with some headphones and paying attention, there's more there and I think I'll be reassessing it as I listen to it more. Definitely not something I can play in the car (it's like Kid A to me that way; if I can't pay attention it all kind of runs together).
posted by indubitable at 5:44 AM on May 9, 2016

yeah ok but that 24-bit sound tho hnnnng
posted by the painkiller at 6:48 AM on May 9, 2016

Between the opener from The Mountain Will Fall and Daydreaming it's been an unusually great couple days for epic chord progressions...
posted by yoHighness at 6:56 AM on May 9, 2016

I hear so much Nick Drake-ness on this album.

I still am loving it and still stand firm with my 'it's as strong as anything they're ever done' stance.
posted by Windigo at 7:11 AM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I cannot WAIT to see them live this summer and see how they manage to rework them to play live. I can't imagine they're going to lug around a orchestra, but hey, stranger things have happened.
posted by Windigo at 7:14 AM on May 9, 2016

Man, I'm so pissed off at this band right now. The sale of tickets to their concerts this summer was a disaster, and for Thom Yorke to have the gall to say that he won't stream it on Spotify (yet continues to do business with Ticketmaster/Live Nation and Apple) is the height of hypocrisy. So I guess I'll maybe listen to this in a few months when it comes out on vinyl.

At least you can't spoil a record.
posted by thecaddy at 7:40 AM on May 9, 2016

Just listened to the album again, then queued up TKOL. True Love Waits fades nicely into Bloom, which has more energy than AMSP. Not getting "epic" yet, I'll come back.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:52 AM on May 9, 2016

OK - Separator leads into Burn the Witch fairly well, too, but I think the opposite plays better. TKOL was so percussive, and this is is more focused on the strings, as others have noted. It feels like they were making the Spectre theme and thought "let's make a whole album like this!"

I can't fault them - it's a gorgeous track, but from that to Burn the Witch is like following a good Bond movie with a Wes Anderson film set in some grand scale (it's the plucky strings that segue into the swooping orchestra).
posted by filthy light thief at 10:04 AM on May 9, 2016

This "True Love Waits" version is killing me. :'( :'( :'(
posted by hollyholly at 2:33 PM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the 24-bit WAVs, but please be aware that there is a better format out there, FLAC. I'm somewhat weary of artists putting out the best quality version only to have to go through a conversion and tagging dance to get Apple Lossless into my iTunes. WAV has no set standard for tagging.
posted by pashdown at 3:48 PM on May 9, 2016

Paging indubitable…
posted by Going To Maine at 4:22 PM on May 9, 2016

Radiohead cover artist and superfan Warren Lain missed out on the album's launch day. Now watch him livestream his first time listening to the album in full.

Covers he's done:

There There - Airbag - Optimistic - Knives Out - Sail to the Moon - Paranoid Android
posted by Rhaomi at 5:45 PM on May 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Anyway, i'll stick with my B-Side and live version of 'True Love Waits' and try to forget about this Mingus-wannabe-crappy-cover and that any of this happened. I am mean, I know.
posted by nims at 6:39 PM on May 9, 2016

Finally listening to it and I don't hate it but it's not really doing much for me yet. I don't know, it all just seem so etherial and wispy.
posted by octothorpe at 1:51 PM on May 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

I don't know, it all just seem so etherial and wispy.

Headphones, if you haven't tried them yet. Dazzlingly colourful, it is.
posted by jokeefe at 8:50 PM on May 10, 2016

Headphones, if you haven't tried them yet. Dazzlingly colourful, it is.

Yeah, that's how I listened to it. It's not bad music, it's just not my thing.
posted by octothorpe at 3:48 AM on May 11, 2016

Keep noticing more little details. Like, can anyone else hear what sounds like a loop made on Brian Eno's "Bloom" app at the end of The Numbers?

Also so many interesting influences. Pitchfork cited Serge Gainsbourg but to me it sounds on several tracks like they've been listening to Disasterpeace.
posted by greenish at 3:39 AM on May 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

I get the Gainsbourg thing (especially with The Numbers) but the first time I heard string arrangements like that was on Beck's Sea Change (er, especially with Paper Tiger), which Nigel Godrich produced. Turns out they cited Serge's Histoire de Melody Nelson as an influence.

Anyway, I absolutely love this album. I was flabbergasted upon being confronted with the full track listing on monday morning. "They did True love waits? REALLY?" And a devastating take, too. I think this is as good (or better) as anything they've done since 1997. Really, after OK Computer, only the two disc version of In Rainbows edges close to this level.
posted by Jansku at 2:11 PM on May 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Seconded for the Eno Ambiant and for the Gainsbourg Melody Nelson influence that i already hinted on the failed Bond theme . That's the main reason why I don't like this album (not much of a KOL lover either). Radiohead used to claim: "We are proud to reinvent ourself with each album", and that's what I liked: experiment. This is just a rehash of old songs with obvious references and a very sad last song which sounds like a last goodbye.
posted by nims at 10:13 PM on May 12, 2016

If you do want to pan the album, please refer to it as A Moon-Shaped Poo in your critical essays. Thanks, a three-year old.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:18 PM on May 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

Lemonade. Hopelessness. The Colour in Anything. A Moon Shaped Pool.

There’s an interesting blog post comparing “Identikit” and Anohni’s “Watch Me” out there somewhere, waiting to be written.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:29 PM on May 13, 2016

I've just gone into the intoxicated phase, and it's perpetually bubbling through my head. Such lovely. On the last listening I noticed that you can hear the thumping of the keyboard on the vocal track of True Love Waits, which, fittingly, makes me think of Joseph Cooper's Dummy Keyboard on Face the Music. A perfectly appropriate middle-class English 1970s child reference, but one I don't think anyone else will get.

And the synths on Identikit. Ooh.

What a year for music.
posted by Grangousier at 2:59 PM on May 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

After having luxuriated in this luscious album the last month, some thoughts and links before the thread closes:
  • I regret listening to "Burn the Witch" and "Daydreaming" before the full album dropped. They're great tracks -- the smoldering production of BTW's title drops, Daydreaming's pretty bell synths, the rich strings throughout both -- but now I have a hard time not mentally separating them from the rest of the album.
  • "Decks Dark" is so fucking cool. Those impossibly fast piano jitters are a nice intro, but when that resoundingly syncopated honky-tonk piano and ghost choir dropped in I fell, hard. That whole middle section weaving the two into a groovy funk throughout Thom's pointed lyrics ("You gotta be kidding me... [bum bu-bum bum bum] the grass grows over me..."), that's easily become a top-10 moment for me. And I love how the whole track feels like an ominous update to "Subterranean Homesick Alien." Back then, the narrator longed for aliens to swoop down and rescue him from this cynical world, but in this track they've arrived and they're TERRIFYING. Be careful what you wish for, Thom.
  • I've seen a lot of folks calling "Desert Island Disc" the weakest track on the record, but I don't see it at all. The intro is the most appealing acoustic work I've heard from them since "Gagging Order", and the lilting lyrics are some of the album's best -- so serene and spiritually uplifting. "Born of a light... with my spirit wide... totally alive... totally rele-e-e-eased..." You can practically hear the smile behind "Across a stree-ee-eet... to another life." And the gentle undercurrent of background sonics, like electric windchimes billowed into motion by the music -- so good.
  • "Full Stop" is a grower, very reminiscent of the ominous Kid A era. Vocals are a little strange, almost Bowie-esque. The recurring electronic siren song in the background was nagging me for the longest time till I remembered Viacom's "V of Doom" logo (previously). Maybe it made an impression at a young age? (Or Vangelis, sure, but this funnier).
  • The intro to "Glass Eyes" is so nice, with that weirdly bubbly underwater effect. Those Jonny strings are so syrupy sweet, and the contrast with the heartbreaking lyrics has strong echoes of "Motion Picture Soundtrack." Almost understays its welcome.
  • I'd avoided "Identikit" along with all the other new songs they teased -- it definitely wasn't what I was expected. But once the groove clicks, it's crazy catchy. And I love the sudden break into "BROKEN HEARTS MAKE IT RAAAAAIIIINN" with the ghost choir reprise -- interesting double-edged lyrics there, btw. Jonny's wild guitar solo just makes it. Intriguing note: the track opens with a title drop -- it's indistinct, but says something like "Moon-shaped pool, dense and cold, you love me, and I wanna know it's never goin' away, no way." Also, I'm curious about the meaning of the track title -- real-life police identikits are pretty eerie looking.
  • "The Numbers" is the one track I still don't really love, and my least favorite. The string arrangements are stirring as usual, but the lyrics verge on cringeworthy. It's way more upbeat and earnest than most of their more political songs, and traffics in cliches like "we call upon the people" and "the system is a lie." Not that they can't make optimism work (I love "Worrywort" and "Airbag"), and earnest politics works when it's more ambiguous, like in "Go To Sleep." But it's just way too on the nose here.
  • "Present Tense" was very much out of left field with its romantic Latin flair, but turns out to be one of the most beautiful and heartfelt tracks on the album. Still not sure about the weirdly echoed vocals, but that "In you I'm lost" repeated throughout the outro is surprisingly sweet and disarming.
  • I didn't get "Tinker Tailor" at first, but the lyrics give it real punch. I read a strong environmentalist message into it -- while we pillage the planet, all the creatures of the earth ("the ones you light your fires to keep away") slink away, hunted, dying, telling their loved ones "honey, come to me before it's too late." The string crescendo really makes me wish they'd figured out a way to fit "Spectre" into the tracklist instead of releasing it independently.
  • I've always liked the live version of "True Love Waits", so the minimalist piano version really surprised me. But I think it works -- something about the vocal treatment gives it an otherwordly, ethereal, almost elegiac quality the old takes lacked. Especially affecting given much of the album was influenced by Yorke's break-up with his partner of 23 years (a relationship about as old as the song itself).
And some linkage:

Officially commissioned "vignettes" posted to the official site (with more to come):
The Numbers - Desert Island Disc - Identikit
Semi-official lyrics (including a lot of alternate/unused lines) for every song, taken from promotional cards.

Art and behind-the-scenes photos from the "Burn the Witch" claymation video

Hi-res album artwork from Stanley Donwood

A pretty incredible cello band cover of "Burn the Witch"

"Daydreaming" 8-bit version

"Decks Dark" live in Paris

Original 2015 acoustic versions of The Numbers, Desert Island Disc, and Present Tense

[PS: A very special "fuck u" to the band's new label for removing countless official Radiohead music videos, breaking dozens of links in this and other threads that were specifically used because they were supposed to be official versions...]
posted by Rhaomi at 11:24 AM on June 6, 2016 [4 favorites]

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