Radiohead New Album 2016 “A Moon Shaped Pool”


With their ninth album, Radiohead move beyond the existential anxiety that made them music’s leading doomsayers, pursuing a more personal and eternal form of enlightenment.

Radiohead,  A Moon Shaped Pool which is their ninth album, have a unique grasp on how easily deepnes can slip into triteness. Their music is obsessed with the point where great truths harden into truism, where pure signal meets scratched noise. In the past, Thom Yorke(vocalist of Radiohead) has sharply peppered his lyrics with everyday platitude to suggest a mind consumed by meaningless figures, but on the new album, he largely moves beyond skepticism. He is now considering simpler truths in a heretofore unexplored register: wondering and surpirsing. “This goes beyond me, beyond you,” he sings on the songs titled “Daydreaming.” They are just happy to serve. There is no hidden razor under Yorke’s words as he offers this thought, or in the early music that surrounds him. It sounds for all the world like the most secluded and isolated soul in modern rock music admitting a helplessness far more personal than he’s ever be brave enough. Yorke has triffle with surrender before, and on Their album Moon Shaped Pool, that mission feels nearly done.

The album is surrounded by two older pieces of music that act as a portal to the darker, unfamiliar waters within. Opener songs that is “Burn the Witch” has been sailing around, in some form, since Kid A. “This is a low-flying surprising attack,” Yorke revealed, explicitly connecting to the bad old days of air crashes, iron lungs, and wolves at doors. Meanwhile, Jonny Greenwood’s fragile modernist string arrangement reinforces the axiety, turning the orchestra into a scratching teeth. It’s a vintage splash of Radiohead stomach acid, a cloud of punkies unleashed in your mind.

It also feels like an exorcism for what follows. An enter into something scarier than the complex military industry,  or the stealthy nature of propaganda, or human habbits to disturbing tendency towards unquestioning compliance. Yorke separated from his partner and the mother for 23 years, and on Identikit, he sings “Broken hearts make it rain” and “When I see you messin me around, I don’t want to know.”

That isn’t to say that this is necessarily a break up album. Separations (particularly those involving children) take place in the strong light of day, with lawyers’ appointments, roster, and logistical arrangements. This Radiohead albums are the stuff of dreams and nightmares, and the band retains a healthy resistance to clarity and melody; their music is a maze of signs you can snoop into any way you like. Even so, the impact of trauma, a sort of car crash of the soul, is obvious. The music here feels loose and untanggled, broken open in the way you can only be after a disaster. “There’s a spaceship blocking out the sky,” Yorke inspects on “Decks Dark,” as a choral voices pass overhead. The scene is straight from 1997s “Subterranean Homesick Alien,” but here Thom Yorke doesn’t sound “uptight.” He sounds completely drained, as if upcoming invasion doesn’t concern him at all.

A song title “Glass Eyes” hints at many of the band’s longstanding horrible preoccupations the similarity of humanity in something cold and dead, or the offense of the biological body by foreign objects but the song is a bloodflow of strings comes into the heart. “Hey it’s me, I just got off the train,” Yorke sings, and it’s a strikingly regular image, the Paranoid Android himself, picking up the phone and calling someone to tell them that he’s just arrived. “I feel this love turn cold,” he admit as the ballad draws to a close, the phrasing an echo, unconscious or not, of his Kid A sign off “I’ll see you in the next life.” A beat of cello appears like a swelling in the throat; the song fades away.

radiohead a moon shaped pool

Throughout the album, Yorke’s everyday awareness is backed by music of expanse and dispose. The guitars sound like pianos, and the mixes breathe with priestly calm. “The Numbers,” a song about the upcoming apocalypse brought on by climate change, flexures along, its groove as wide as an ocean. Even the evil sound synth wave that passes through “Ful Stop” sounds like a guest, a momentary darkness rather than a imprison spirit. As the song builds, the band works up with a coursing groove that will feel familiar to the fans, with its interlocking guitars and an arterial rush of rhythms serving to launch Yorke’s wordless moan. It’s a sound that Radiohead has spent the last decade sharpen, but the payoff here is deeper and more statisfying than it has been in a while.

The added dimension comes from Yorke, who pumps the fresh oxygen into these songs, many of which have existed in sketchlike forms for years. On the lonely folk hymn “Desert Island Disk,” he sings of a nervous experience: “The wind rushing ‘round my open heart/An open cliff/In my spirit white.” As a vision of transformation, it feels like the inverse to Amnesiac’s “Pyramid Song,” where his only firends were the dead; here, he is “totally alive.”

And then there’s “True Love Waits.” It’s an old song, one of that has been around in a various forms for over two decades, but unlike “Burn the Witch” or the other tempt sketches and scraps that Radiohead diehards pick apart on forums. It appeared  I Might Be Wrong live album on 2001 and, dragged into 2016, feels like a relic from a different geological period. “I’ll drown my beliefs,” Yorke sings, “just don’t leave.” It was the message they leave us with, this very open hearted song that has always felt like an open wound in their discography, a geyser of feelings erupting out of earth visitor. Its very inclusion of a striking moment of transparency.

The version here is just Yorke and a piano, so resonant and echo drenched that it feels like we’ve stuck our heads inside the melody. Yorke moans tenderly, never opening up into his chest voice. It’s sung for only one person this time, not crowds. In its worldly visions of “lollipops and crisps,” the lyrics purposefully skirt deficient, an acknowledgment that platitudes can be, in fact, where all the action is. “I’m not living/I’m just killing time,” the 47 years old admits. You can write a line like that and set it to music, you can perform it for years in front of praising millions, you can carry the idea around in your heart and mind. But it might take a days for it to strike, as it does here, with a newfound power. The truth, as always, lies in a plain sight, right there in the kicking and the screech, the vomit and the panic. Some truths just take longer to see than others.

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