ce n’est pas une critique.
“The King of Limbs,” I will admit, leaves me with wanting something more. But when it comes to Radiohead, such a yearning does not suggest that the album was left unwhole, unfinished. Quite the opposite, wanting more of their music is the tell-tale sign that “The King of Limbs” did its job; it stimulated us fans for about 37 minutes, leaving us blabbing to ourselves, mumbling something along the lines of: “Damn, I need more of that. That’s new.” I then hit the loop button and went far, far away…
As for the band, I’m still absolutely convinced that Radiohead are the most innovative, avant-garde, and eccentric band since the Beatles (though I’ll be the first to say that the latter weren’t exactly playing fairly with their LSD-inspired musical breakthroughs). With unfounded, controversial comparisons aside, I don’t consider Radiohead a rock band; they’re really not. But that’s great because I’ve never appreciated rock (classic or otherwise) as much as I do the genre of “Radiohead.” And I still see the band as a progressively-moving force in search of their true selves. Many critics and fans are disappointed with “The King of Limbs,” but I see the new album as a step forward, closer to that archetypical Radiohead sound, whatever it might end up being. Want to hear an understatement? Okay: I’m a fan of Radiohead. But what that means for me is joining the band on the musical and artistic journey that they have been leading since 1993. If that means experiencing different sounding music every album, then I’ll interpret it in such a way that the true genius of the music is clear. After all, I don’t want albums that are facsimiles of the band’s previous ones (if you want to hear more of “The Bends,” then listen to it!). With that said, I still found “The King of Limbs” brilliant. I love every song on the album for its own individual reasons, and the quality of their music cannot be explained in words. Thus, ce n’est pas une critique. Radiohead are at the point in their careers where everything they do is genius in its own way, despite what anyone has to say about it. Look at “Kid A.” It was not well-received by critics when it came out. Now look at it: it’s considered the best album of the decade. My point is that music from a band that requires a lot of understanding will not appear brilliant at first or second or third listen. As the axiom goes: the longer it takes to truly understand the genius of a song or album or band, the better it is. True, isn’t it?
Radiohead, through the years, have obtained the perfect balance between “it would be awesome if we tried this” and “who gives a fuck what they think.” With that balance, they continue to set precedents, break barriers, and walk all over that which the music industry has declared what “should be” and what “is expected.” For many reasons (including that one), Radiohead are my favorite band, and “The King of Limbs” has corroborated that statement; it hasn’t spoiled it.
Starting today, I resume my wait for the next Radiohead album.