A Moon Shaped Pool Album Review
Released May 8, 2016
Genre: Art Rock, Electronic, Krautrock, Orchestral Rock, Experimental Rock
Art rock titans Radiohead have been elusive since 2011 – offering solo projects, mini tours, film scores, and miscellaneous events of speculation; but it all culminated in early May when their website, and all forms of social media, blanked out and became solely occupied by one item: a claymation bird chirping. Some late night decoding HTML, a few Reddit theories, and odd torrents later Radiohead came back onto the scene dropping their ninth studio record. Do they deliver? YES
Still covering the mainly electronic territory last visited on The King of Limbs, Yorke & Co.’s 11-track LP is a doomsday lullaby, brooding yet delicate tales of torture, sadness, and love lost melancholy that make for some of the most beautiful music you will ever hear this year. No stranger to strings or cinematic orchestrations/soundscapes, guitarist Johnny Greenwood (composer for Paul Thomas Anderson films) insidiously opens the record with some staccato-like string on “Burn The Witch” (I’m assuming it was his decision, or at least his creation. I could be wrong. Don’t quote me on this.); a tune that is one of Radiohead’s strongest combining their knack for an ear-worm hook with some orchestral instrumentation.
The band play with soundscapes and atmospheres, such as the spectacular track “Daydreaming” a song reportedly about Yorke’s divorce with his wife of 20+ years, slowly builds and builds to its thunderous and disturbingly beautiful climax. “Ful Stop” opens with a brooding bass line before being propelled by a drum loop that keeps the song’s momentum going. “Desert Island Disk” loops an acoustic guitar riff that is drowned out by Yorke’s vocals and its spacious instrumentation before delving into a slow rock ballad.
Concert favorite “Identikit” finally gets a release with a heart-achingly chorus that will be sung my many a love sick Radiohead fan. “The Numbers” features a descending-like feel reminiscent of “Pyramid Song” off of their band’s 2001 LP Amnesiac. A folk-like strum slowly grows and climaxes on “Present Tense” before being lifted off of the ground into the ghostly heavens with the surrounding vocal samples providing an ominous yet effervescent feeling of emotion. Finally, Kid A (Reissue) favorite “True Love Waits” gets a redo in the most beautiful way, substituting the guitar for a melancholic keyboard rendition, making for quite possibly the saddest yet fulfilling album closer this year.
Radiohead prove with A Moon Shaped Pool that they can still sound better than before, and they manage to sound just as exciting, fresh, emotional, and essential as they have always been. Despite the five-year wait, AMSP fulfills the wishes of every hardcore fan, and then some. A few weeks ago Thom Yorke “wondered if people would care”; turns out, Radiohead needed us more than we needed them. A validation of that sort from an audience to a band just proves how much their time, effort, and music are worth. In 2016, you just can’t buy that.
PRETTY NEAT MUSIC
FAV TRACKS: Burn The Witch, Daydreaming, Decks Dark, Desert Island Disk, Ful Stop, Identikit, The Numbers, Present Tense, Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief, True Love Waits
LEAST FAV TRACK: Glass Eyes (kind of)