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Adam L on February 27th, 2011 at 11:13 pm #
Good review, although I almost totally disagree. So far, and I’ve only given it probably four complete spins yet, I think this album is just boring. I really like your title (“What is Radiohead Thinking”) but for me, it would probably be said in a totally incredulous tone. As in, I don’t get this album one bit. I’m trying to find a way to see it is a progression from any of the music that Radiohead has made before this and I’m really struggling to find an answer. It’s like they took all the forward thinking from Kid A and dumbed it down. What have they pushed forward with this music? So far, I’m hearing nothing.
Have they already said everything they could say as a band? I think, perhaps yes.
Julz on March 1st, 2011 at 11:32 am #
I’m hoping some of these conspiracy theories are true and there is in fact a second album…
Adam – what you see as “dumbing down” I see as a measured embrace of what’s popular in 2011, as if to say “I see what you all are doing, and here’s how you can make it more interesting without losing your appeal.” To some extent, Radiohead has always been about challenging the casual music listener to pay closer attention, to experience music not just as a sensual, but as a cerebral experience. Seen in that light, this album is actually quite a daring experiment: how far can they wander into the world of the pop format, of the bass and drum-machines, of minimalist composition not as laziness but as a stylistic – and dare I say even a capitalistic – statement, and still succeed on their own terms? If you ask me, *this* far. And probably no further. Which is quite something for a group with Packt Like Sardines in a Crush’d Tin Box and There There on its resume.
Julz – I take it TKOL doesn’t do it for you either. I share your hope that there’s another record, but if there isn’t I won’t consider this a failure. I see it as an extension of In Rainbows in stylistic terms, but it’s more fully self-aware. With self-awareness comes some inhibition, but also context and clarity. This is an album with a statement. And in a way, if the whole kit and kaboodle is only 8 songs and 37 minutes, that statement is all the more powerful.
Julz on March 2nd, 2011 at 12:05 pm #
Yes, this album was a bit underwhelming for me as I was expecting an album with crazy explosions of music and sound (and longer than 37.4 minutes). While I’m not disappointed (the album is beautiful-esp Codex), I wanted each song to really stand out. Nevertheless, I will continue to listen and let it increasingly grow on me as all Radiohead albums do.
Side note: When I heard the opening to “Little by Little” I immediately thought of “Sour Times” by Portishead. Maybe its just me..
Also, FYI, ‘Morning Mr. Magpie” is an old Radiohead B-Side. I think I like the original better than this album’s version (I will gladly send it your way or you can check out an acoustic version (:P) here:
While I tend to “want” to agree with the author – and I really do want to – I do find it hard to accept this as a Radiohead album. If you listen to Thom’s “The Eraser” solo project, it makes me wonder how much input the rest of the band really had in forming the musical styling of TKOL.
Being a 20 year fan of the band (almost) I have ridden this coaster through claustrophobic tunnels, dizzying spiral twists, doubtful upside-down loops and exhaustively-exhilarating plunges into what they dish out as popular music. I’ve backed them up when they needed it (Amnesiac) and revelled in the glory of The Bends, OK Computer and In Rainbows with the masses, and yet… for the first time as a fan (and critic), I was totally floored with a hint of disappointment – and that’s all it is.
I can hear what the songs would’ve sounded like without the production and they would have been great; and I’m all for art, but sometimes “doing it for ourselves” is something best bridled by garage bands with stars in their eyes. My 2c.
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