With the rather novel way in which Radiohead are letting their fans download their new album from today, I thought it’d do a fairly novel review (for me anyway), seeing as you’ve all most likely heard it already. So what follows is what I thought while listening to the album for the first time, this afternoon, on a bus back into the City Centre. Paper live-blogging almost…
1. 15 Step
- The album starts with a clattering drumbeat reminiscent of Surgeon’s remix of Yorke’s “The Clock”. Except that all changes when the guitar comes in and it starts to sound like Radiohead 2.0 we know so well.
- Another great Colin Greenwood bassline in the second half.
- A promising start.
- Looking at the tracklisting, I feel like I know these songs already even though I don’t peruse Radiohead fanatic sites. It’s like a weird case of deja vu with added aural amnesia.
- No pun intended.
- A rollicking, crunchy guitar number it is so. Marvellous.
- I’m glad Radiohead favour swooping crescendos over guitar solos. Solos are so 90’s (and 60’s, 70’s and 80’s). In fact, 80’s synth or reverb-heavy guitar solos make all other music irrelevant. See Poison, Guns and Roses, Talking Heads, Europe ad finitum.
- Sounds a bit like “How to Disappear Completely”. Nice backwards sounding bits; Oh, here’s another nice bassline.
- I realise it’ll probably take more listens to fathom what Yorkey-poo is on about so I imagine he is saying “I r killing you with mind bulletz” over and over.
- It’s definitely a slow number; Menacing strings are creeping in.
- Phil Selway should patent his drum sound.
- Great song.
4. Weird Fishes / Arpeggi
- Jonny Greenwood’s nice plucked guitar sounds like something they have recorded before. What?
- That twinkling synth halfway through low in the mix (or is it a guitar?) sounds like Underworld.
- Thom’s getting eaten by worms apparently.
5. All I Need
- I hate the title; It sounds like something Natasha Bedingfield would call her album.
- Forget the title, this could be an album highlight.
- I like glockenspiel.
6. Faust Arp
- Strings & acoustic guitar! A lot less electronics this time around, which I would like to be honest.
- It’s a fairly laid-back album.
- This song is just over two minutes.
- The bus is full of schoolchildren now. Loads of them.
- It starts off with Thom in comfort mode: “You are not to blame” says he.
- WTF! More lush strings!
- They definitely seem to be chilling out on this, their seventh album.
8. House of Cards
- Jonny’s inimitable full-bodied guitar starts this one; Thom wails in the background.
- “I don’t want to be your friend / I just want to be your lover”. – This is tongue in cheek right? Bedingfield herself would have been proud of that one, which is essentially a play on a Texas lyric.
- After that lyric, I think this could have made it onto Pablo Honey.
- I have a feeling they played this in Marley Park last year. Amirite?
- The schoolkids have made a mass exodus from the bus. Perhaps to an organised after-school fight perhaps home. I’ll never know. Regardless, OGGI OGGI OGG! OI! OI OI!
- Again. this is of middling tempo, not bad mind you but chilled. Loads of reverb too 🙂
9. Jigsaw falling into place
- Acoustic-led number; The band sound comfortable. Not too comfortable that it sounds shit though.
- Not the usual style of vocal delivery from Thom, he sounds resolute and knowing.
- Ah yes. We know this from last year’s Basement Sessions. Sounds much better. A nice way to end the album.
- Just Thom and a piano until some minimal drums, harmonies and some barely-there whirly effects join in.
- More scattershot drums and FX.
- A fitting outro.
- Radiohead must have timed the album to match the duration of a Wednesday afternoon bus journey from Celbridge to the City Centre as the bus pulls into Pearse St on the last note. Eerily perfect.
So overall, on reflection it’s a solid Radiohead album with no real standout track. A lot more laid-back and less noisy than previous efforts with less electronics utilised. I will definitely need more time to digest it so I’m not rushing to give a definitive thumbs up.
As it was pointed out elsewhere, the songs are in 160kbps MP3 format. Not quite CD-quality. I’m not suprised but others are pissed. I think it was actually mixed with this in mind as through headphones a number of lower parts stood out for me. There are also suggestions that they released this on 160kbps so it wouldn’t go up on popular (read: illegal) MP3 download site Oink, as they require mp3s of at least 192kbps in quality. However, that is most likely complete bollocks as anyone who wants the album can download it for free anyway.
Regardless, Radiohead turned the leaked album conundrum into a perfectly validated legal leaked album purchase with a perplexing moral question and we’re all going spastic for it. That is clever marketing boys.