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The King of Limbs

News of the existence of The King of Limbs came, characteristically enough for Radiohead, only a week before the group released the album. And considering the low key nature of this eight track affair the lack of fanfare was probably apt.

But while it ranks as the Oxford group’s shortest album to date, The King of Limbs is certainly not short of quality songs. Lotus Flower, the first single, is a classic Radiohead melody, Thom Yorke’s ghostly falsetto dancing over syncopated drum patterns with hand claps and a synth bassline in support.

Simplicity is the order of the day here, both in the arrangements and the lyrics. This gives the vocals more space in the mix, creating a sense of calm. It’s a tense balance, with rattling drums patterns, abstract bleeps and menacing industrial sounds never far from the fore.

Another contradiction occurs in Give up the Ghost between the fragile desperation expressed in the imploring vocal refrain ‘Don’t haunt me’ and the music’s uplifting, almost transcendent beauty.

Pared down and intimate, yet by Radiohead’s standards The King of Limbs is more business as usual than revolutionary. But when business as usual is this good, who’s complaining?

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