Monday, May 16, 2016

Album Review :: Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool


A Moon Shaped Pool

May 8 2016 / June 17 2016 (physical) (XL)


Words: Alison Mack

Time was when an artist would just announce the release of an album/single, followed by the emergence of said product. Not so with Radiohead who for this, their ninth studio album and first in over five years, embarked on a somewhat bizarre campaign involving sending fans cryptic messages, then removing all their online social media presence.

When they returned a few days later it was with 'Burn The Witch', a dazzling political indictment of driving strings and which was to eventually appear as the opening track on this full-length. It, like 'True Love Waits' - a rippling piano and percussion-infused track over vocal croons - further along, are both songs that have been around in some shape or form for a number of years (1995 roughly in the case of the latter, before appearing in 2001 on the live collection 'I Might Be Wrong').

'A Moon Shaped Pool' transpires as a sharply worked statement woven around the past, present, and future, as Thom Yorke veers from global catastrophes to personal dilemmas such as the break-up of Yorke's 23-year relationship.

Subsequently, the album takes on the downcast juxtaposed against the lush. 'Daydreaming', which would seemingly evolve around the aforementioned partnership, arrives in a piano-led echo chamber of capacious melodies, shimmering guitars and evidentiary lyrics: "This goes beyond me, beyond you / Daydreamers, they never learn / It's too late, the damage is done". 'Glass Eyes' and 'Present Tense', both bittersweet and introspective, focus on love and loss, and weighted down with the inevitability of anxiety and mournful depression as coursing strings pervade.

Elsewhere, 'The Numbers', written about a climate change apocalypse, employs a meandering jazz-folk-rock acoustic guitar and strings, while 'Full Stop' is a six-minute track of motorik throbbing electronics that meld synth, guitars with Phil Selway's drums to superb effect. The delicately folkish acoustic 'Desert Island Disk' (which was first played live in Paris last December) where “the wind rushing ‘round my open heart / An open ravine/In my spirit white” is a rather fitting epithet to what is a rather glorious sonically elevating return of the Radiohead spirit.

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