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Radiohead – The King Of Limbs: More reviews

Radiohead The King Of LimbsIt’s been over a week since Radiohead released their 8th album The King Of Limbs. Here’s another review round-up, following last week’s reviews.

One of the most anticipated reviews was the one from Pitchfork. The number one music blog rated The King Of LImbs with a 7.9: “So: eight tracks, each of them worth your time, and yet The King of Limbs is still likely to go down as Radiohead’s most divisive record.”

Alexis Petridis of The Guardian had 4 out of 5 stars for the album: “Listening to it, you’re reminded that Radiohead are the only band of their size and status that seem driven by an impulse to twist their music into different shapes. As The King of Limbs proves, when it works it’s glorious, but that impulse doesn’t always yield perfect results. Still, listening to Radiohead try is never less than intriguing; after all, their peers aren’t trying at all.”

“As with anything that’s trying to do something bigger and better, lessons of that magnitude can take more time to sink in, definitely longer than the handful of hours we’ve had to absorb what The King of Limbs might be all about. In that sense, the jury is still out on The King of Limbs and that’s because there’s always something more to Radiohead,” wrote Arnold Pan of Popmatters.com: 9/10.

Michael Roffman of Consequence of Sound: “It’s essentially a 37 minute jam session; one where they’re carving out their current sensibilities and seeing where they run. While Yorke sounds front and center, he’s not really alone. Those subtle nuances, the little hums, the clattering beeps, and the scratchy percussion? They’re the sounds of five souls, not just one. And while they might not have crafted their best work this time around, they did assemble one of their most absorbing efforts to date.”

“The King of Limbs is tight and well-produced, but lacks the stark contrasts and sonic journeys that pervade Radiohead’s seven previous studio works — lofty standards to be sure, but ones the band members surely hold themselves to as well. All in all, the album pulses with creativity, while leaving listeners wondering if they got all the tracks during their download.” A 7 out of 10 from Wired.

Spin rates The King Of Limbs with 8 out of 10: “It emphasizes percussion and low end over scrawling guitar and possible singles. The quiet stuff over the loud. More swirl and hum, less grind and growl. Its existence was announced five days before its release, and then it was released a day early. All of the bullet points about the band’s eighth long-player seem designed to minimize it, but a Radiohead record is always an event, and Yorke knows as much. In the barebones video for Limbs’ “Lotus Flower,” he manically boogies to a song that doesn’t seem to warrant it, celebrating.”

Chris Richards of the Washington Post: “But with “The King of Limbs,” the band displays such confidence and grace in its digital-age fussiness, its hard to take your earbuds out after one listen. It all just sounds too luscious. It’s not a thriller, but it’s an album worth exploring and re-exploring – until the next one drops out of the sky.”

Over at Drowned In Sound they refuse to post a review of the album so soon after the release. A proper one is expected at the end of March, but the whole DiS staff posted their take on The King Of Limbs. Read it here.

The Chicago Sun-Times had only 2 stars (out of 5?) for The King Of Limbs: “If we were still naming our price, I’d say “Limbs” is worth $5-6, though I think it’s a grower whose value will tick up slightly over time. What will be interesting is how this music will transition to the stage, if it can. Then again, it might not be worth its own tour.” – Thomas Connor

From South Africa; The Times: “While “The King of Limbs” is not Radiohead’s best album, it might be the band’s best “experience.” From it’s guerrilla-style launch (alerting fans to its existence a few days before dropping a digital download) to the breathless anticipation and deconstruction of the album across the Internet (reviews were up within the hour) to the conspiracy theories already spreading (is there a second instalment coming?), Yorke, Jonny and Colin Greenwood, Philip Selway and Ed O’Brien – continues to show it’s the most interesting “rock ‘n’ roll” band in the world.”

29 Comments

  • The german Spiegel Online rates The King of Limbs with 9 out 10.

  • Pitchfork review is ridiculous… I used to respect them…

    The others have decent points of view… I think this album will get a re-review in a year or so like they all did with Kid A.

  • Chicago Sun-Times rates 2 out of 4, if Ebert is anything to go by.

  • Is it really a Radiohead album though?

  • Pitchfork is the most pretentious music review site out there. Sometimes I think they just rip on stuff to make themselves look cool or better than everyone else and not necessarily because the music deserves it. I honestly don’t understand why so many people lend such weight to their reviews, essentially if something is abstract and indie enough, they’ll love it.

  • They have nice writers and I discovered great bands based on their reviews, but lately they just became pretentious like Marc said. And this last review is just nonsense. The writer simply made comparisons with previous albums and gave it a 7.9.
    But the last drop was that, I remember when In Rainbows was announced they went crazy with previews, featurettes, interviews, top albums, video round-ups, and praised the pay-what-you-want method… And in this review the writes starts dissing that out like “Yeah, that was cool back in 00′s but now is just silly…

    Hey, who cares what Pitchfork says…

  • I like the question muzzatron had.

    Is this really an album or is it just b-sides to their HIGHLY anticipated release of their 8th album? I don’t know.

    This piece gave us a glimpse of what has been going through Radiohead’s head. Not a real joy by the measure of their latest MASTERPIECES.

    I just hope Radiohead is playing a mystery game with us and will be giving us REAL Radiohead glory.

    Tracks 5,6,7,8 are just wonderful.

  • I think if this is all there is, then I will be ultimately disappointed by the whole thing. But I just don’t think that this IS all there is! This hushed understated mini-album was basically a way of defusing expectations I think. And reviewers are being very considered and careful, ‘cos they don’t want to look foolish when the Best Of 2011 polls come in at the end of the year. This album is good. But it isn’t great. And more is to come.

  • And if you read it, the Pitchfork review is well reasoned. A good review.

  • Check out my video for feral…

    http://vimeo.com/20407162

    It’s the first piece of many on my current project…

    I plan on making one for most/all the tracks on the new album!

    Currently working on something for Lotus Flower.

  • I enjoyed Drowned in Sounds coverage the most. I think the takeaway with this album is, get 10 people in a room and you certainly won’t get the same answer. This is a divisive one, but count me in on the lovers’ side.

  • I agree with Opinion 7. I think this is likely a b-sides collection to a possible greater release coming up — if not just Part 1 of a multi-part album.
    I’ve heard it a few times with my mother, who’s quite enjoying it (She doesn’t like pop music, generally.)
    I really like “Bloom”. I love “Little By Little”, “Lotus Flower”, and “Codex”.

    I like “Morning, Mr. Magpie”, but wish they’d kept some of Yorke’s early solo strumming beat; it’s a bit too steady and repetitive in its album form, though the bridge is gorgeous.

    I don’t like “Feral” or “Give Up the Ghost” and am so-so regarding “Separator”. My opinions may change.

    However, my experience has taught me that I’m not prejudiced by early versions of songs; I thought I’d hate “Lotus Flower”, but LOVE the album version. This means Radiohead really did mess up “Arpeggi” and “Videotape” for the album, since I loved their 2006 live incarnations.

    Looking forward to the next release, though part of me fears there isn’t one for a long while. I want my “Present Tense” and “Burn the Witch”!

  • Also, I find Pitchfork’s ridiculous championing of “Vampire Weekend” and “The Strokes” with 9-something scores when they deserve no more than 8-something or constant love for Morrissey’s tepid albums indefensible.

    However, I think Mark Pytlik probably right. Maybe he was a bit harsh in the score, but I found his review fair. I also like how he presents himself and his reviews. They have none of the childish vitriol of Ryan Dombal; now, there’s a bad news writer and reviewer, who writes mostly about the lyrics!

  • Ok so pitchdork (not s type-o) gave Kanye West’s new album (which is not a bad one) a 10 out of 10 and called it the best album of 2010 yet TKOL gets ripped on? what the funk are they smoking over there? by the way it snowed in LA today, that’s some crazy global warming shenanigans.

  • I like The King of Limbs. It’s a good Radiohead album and I’m glad they made it. However, I think the Pitchfork review was kind of spot-on. I mean, if OK Computer and Kid A are 10s, The King of Limbs sits pretty well at 7.9. Now, in comparison with some of the ridiculous shit they praise over there, yeah, I can understand the outrage. But, in and of itself, I think its fair. I gotta say, though, and you’ll all hate me for sure, but…. ugh… fuck… (kanye’s album was better)… May God have mercy on all our souls.

  • A bad review starts when you rank an album based on previous albums of that band and that’s what Pitchfork did I think. Not saying that the album is “best new music” is not fair. How the hell did Cut Copy new album get “best new music” and The King of Limbs don’t?
    Most of what Mark wrote is true and reasonable, but the album is way better than 80 % albums around like Chris Dick wrote!

  • lol, it took Pitchfork five paragraphs to start talking about the songs, and spent very little time talking about each (3 paragraphs total.) I’d say, it could have been done better. Though Pitchfork, also rated the Yeah’s(x3) ‘Fever To Tell’ a 7.4 originally, so what do they know?

  • @ToweringAbove, it is crazy how it snowed in southern Cali, weird huh? @Chris Dick, now I have to listen to Kanyes album. The pitchfork article by Mark definitely got me thinking about the structure of the album. The jury in my head is still out about even wanting to rank the music/album. Can’t I just take it all in without comparisons? I have to say I’m not that surprised by it. I mean if you follow what the band members have each been working on over the last few years the sound makes sense. I don’t know, I really am enjoying it. Whatever you want to “classify” it as.

  • radiohead is dead

  • I’m not really outraged at Pitchfork, I just find them hyper-reactive a lot of the time, both in praise and criticism. I don’t give their reviews much weight is all. There’s no way Contra by Vampire Weekend is a better album than King Of Limbs — it has some good tunes but as an album, it’s kind of a mess.

    Kudos to the publication waiting until after the physical release to review the record btw. I was really disappointed with King Of Limbs at first but after living with it for over a week I am starting to come around and love it. I think it took a lot of people by surprise because they didn’t unveil a lot of the new songs in a live setting like they usually do. That coupled with how radically different it is from In Rainbows (both the songs and the production) turned a lot of people off I think. Songs like Little By Little, Lotus Flower and Codecs are as good as some of the band’s best.

    Not trying to make excuses but I’m just saying it’s not an album you can fully digest in a short amount of time. People will like what they like but I think that this one will grow on many given some time.

  • Really enjoyed the Drowned in Sound snippets. Some of the better insights I’ve read regarding the album. Glad to see that someone is giving the album the time it deserves before writing a review, as it has really grown on me over the last week and I love it.

  • I think the album’s subtle landscapes and textured sounds are going to creep into people over time and the album will get higher ratings overall. I would have expected a Pitchfork 8.5+ if you judge it by how they are rating other albums. I wouldn’t be surprised if King of Limbs ends in their top 10 2011 list and ultimately gets re-evaluated a-la Kid A.

    I’m surprised at how much the album keeps showing me the more I listen to it, including how much the other members of the band actually contribute to the songs. This is a very typical Radiohead album with complex textures that slowly unfold over time. For some reason, some people aren’t giving it that chance.

    Its length seems to be the main reason driving the negativity of reviews and the discredit that people give it. Another criticism is that there is no real standout track that shocks you. It is instead an album full of subtleties all throughout. But as a whole I think the standout is the record itself, which is very different, yet very apt for what is considered progressive and forward-thinking in 2011. Not to mention downright enjoyable.

    As for a second part. It’s obvious the b-sides are coming. When was the last time Radiohead released a record without b-sides? Pablo Honey?

  • Pitchfork put up a review of ‘Give Up The Ghost’

    http://pitchfork.com/reviews/tracks/12126-give-up-the-ghost/

  • Already trying to mend their review? It’s an honest song review, I guess they could have put more details like that in the album review.

    @arturo Thumbs up!

  • I think 8/10 is fair. 4/5 doesn’t look as good even though it’s the same score.

    Actually, fuck it, I’m giving 8.5/10. We’re in the digital age after all.

  • If I may, I’d love to interject my two cents: It’s a great collection of art that sounds as if it was written more with long distance file swapping amongst friends than 5 men in a studio at the same time. I love, appreciate, and respect all their work. Even the songs that aren’t for me, are for someone. Keep up the good work, it’s brilliant.

  • Pitchfork does not deserve the weight people ascribe to its reviews. I could never rate anything by Kanye a 10 – to me the person/people making the music must be considered in evaluating the work. Kanye is unenlightened, egotistical, unaware. I’m just using him as an example as he was given a 10 rating. Young groups who earn a high rating – honestly, how can one compare fledging work by dubious musicians to a group such as Radiohead who have honed their craft over two decades and is composed of highly intelligent, aware, interested/interesting members who are tuned into many musical influences. There is no justice in an average rating for Radiohead – they deserve better. The pressure to be “groundbreaking” with each effort is ridiculous.

  • @Kat

    So, first you argue “to me the person/people making the music must be considered in evaluating the work.” But then you go onto complain that “The pressure to be “groundbreaking” with each effort is ridiculous?” So basically what you are saying is the music should be evaluated on the who the artist is as a person, but not on their past work?

  • I’m saying Radiohead will always release work it feels proud of and that it should not have to live up to an impossible standard to be groundbreaking with each release. A reviewer might not like a particular effort of the group but I doubt one can say they were slacking. As far as evaluating all musicians on the same scale, that is problematic for me with the huge variation in musical ability, years of playing, etc.

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