It’s like I’m falling out of bed
From a long and weary dream
Finally I’m free of all the weight I’ve been carrying
– Radiohead, “Separator”
That Radiohead’s new album, The King of Limbs, was just released is definitely not news – and just about everyone’s posted and/or seen the video for “Lotus Flower” with Thom Yorke’s weird floaty-arm dance/seizure and mesmerizing skinny-leg gyrations. For those who have yet to see the video, it’s a bit like a Gap commercial in some weird hipster universe:
I knew I’d seen a strangely enthusiastic fellow flailing around in the back of my belly dancing classes recently, but I didn’t realize it was Thom Yorke!
Whatever the criticisms of the video, he looks like he’s having the time of his life, or at the very least, a decent trip. I guess at this point, the guy can do pretty much whatever he likes and the awed “ooohs” and “ahhs” will be infinitely more audible than the scoffs of hipsters who are soooo over it. However, a suitably timed, “I’m in Radiohead, what have you done with your life?” should suffice to silence minor beings who deign to have a negative opinion of anything Thom Yorke does, ever.
Also, his excellent decision to wear a bowler hat reminds me of the cover of a wonderful novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera:
It’s strange, I’ve never written about music before, and I find that words escape me when I try to explain how this album affects me. How does my ability to manipulate adjectives and nouns, the only power with which my English Lit degrees have imbued me, manage to fail me so utterly in this capacity?
I’ve heard a lot of hype about “Codex,” and it’s fantastic – but my current favourite song on the album is “Lotus Flower,” and “Bloom” comes in a close second. “Separator” is swiftly growing on me as well. Okay, so, favourites are done. But—the entire album is bound by the magical coherence than I admire so much (and have come to expect) in Radiohead’s albums. It’s almost blasphemous to not listen to an album in its entirety, and I often feel the need to listen to several albums in a row to keep that music high rolling throughout an afternoon of work.
To find a single adjective to aptly describe this band—besides the name they’ve chosen for themselves—seems an impossible task. The few people who’ve asked me what I think of The King of Limbs receive the vaguest of responses: “It’s awesome! Very… Radioheadesque.” True, it has new content, but it also exists within the realm of the comfortably familiar, like a long-overdue conversation with an old friend: the hauntingly beautiful vocals that you can’t always decipher. The electronic lull of sound building upon sound. The anticipatory pause before the beginning of a new track. The rise and fall of each song that makes you feel there is some sort of coherence underlying the chaos of the universe, even if you can’t quite see it yourself. It’s alright, because Thom Yorke gets it.
Listening to this album for the first time was like buying another pair of Chucks (which is overdue for me anyway): they may be a different colour, but I know what they’re going to look like and feel like on my feet, and they are going to be awesome.
And thus, my failure to review The King of Limbs in any helpful way. All I can say is, listen to the freakin’ album, because Thom Yorke will know if you don’t. And I think he might be into some dark arts/hipstamagic: