Monday

reviewing the king of limbs after one listen

most people threw up some opinions on the king of limbs after just one listen, the day it was released. i'm going to happily share my opinions a few weeks after release, still having only listened to it once.

i listened to king of the limbs in it's entirety on headphones on the way to work, having never heard it before (except for putting it on in the background when we had guests, after 4 other new albums, so it was kind of lost in the mix)

I got about half way through, and realised i was still waiting for something to happen. by the end, i'd heard a couple of fairly nice songs (in a supra-keane sort of way) in the second half, but wasn't satisfied.

listening to an album once is never enough to know it; none of my favourite albums have been so highly regarded after just one listen, and that's especially true of radiohead, whose albums i've always found to be growers. but king of limbs just annoyed me; after one listen, it seems closest to thom yorke's pitiful 'feeling pulled apart by horses' single, while also harking back to the absolutely classic amnesiac b-sides. but four tracks in and i dunno, i just hadn't heard any songs, or riffs.

'In Rainbows' was fantastic. I might not have realised how good it was on the first listen, but it didn't put me off. I don't mean put me off in a 'slipknot' kind of way - hearing that when i was 17 was thrilling, but too much - or in a 'trout mask replica' kind of way - as in, the genius could initially only be drank in in small quantities. or Race Horses' 'goodye falkenburg', which i initially thought was a limp version of their live set, but after a few listens i absolutely adored. not like those; this feels more like ephel duath's 'through my dog's eyes', an album I never found a space for. listening to 'limbs' was a frustrating, empty experience. I want to go back to it because radiohead have never let me down before, and others have said it's good, but i honestly don't look forward to the experience or listening to it again.

So, how did listening to it actually make me feel? like a twerp. The lack of publicity just underlined the disappointment for me, it's like they just weren't bothered by it. they'd done it, they were going to shit it out regardless. it's all puffy, rich beats and nothing else; yorko's warblings come across with no lyrical warmth, no harmony, no clever instrumentalism. i don't remember anything from the album except some piano on track 6. i think i found it irritating, which is often a sign that i'm grumpy about something, perhaps something i can't deal with.

So, i guess i'll give it a few more listens, then maybe give up, then do another 'disappointing albums' post in a couple of years. i hope i realise i was wrong, but part of me just wants to dislike the record. is that because i've got an unreasonable grudge, or is it because i feel dumped by it?

edit:
i think one of the things i didn't like about it is that all the songs are about 5 minutes long and go nowhere. it's like... if you do a two minute track that goes nowhere, well fine, it's just like a flavour, a taster, or something; extending it to five minutes is a trick, a smokescreen, like saying 'there's something in this track that deserves to be 5 minutes long' when there isn't. like blowing a doodle up to dramatic proportions in order to make it look like a work of art, which gives it some meaning it didn't originally have. now, i know music is different; a groove can take hold when jammed out. or it can become annoying. i mean, the first discernable riff on the album is track 3, and that's just such an arbitary melody, like they just found some notes and said 'fuck it, that'll do', without considering whether it was catchy or just sounded like a shit version of 'go to sleep'.
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