I am a gigantic Radiohead fan. If Thom Yorke pooped in a bucket, I would still throw it on the ol’ turntable to hear his experimental smell-sounds. That said, I am a pop musician, and I have all the respect in the world for artists who make me smile and sing along. So, here we go, a track by track review of the new Radiohead album, which I spent assloads of money on, and will be delivered to me on vinyl in, like, 90 years. I’m listening to the WAV files, so I know for sure I’m hearing every detail intended by the boys. You can play the album at home and read my thoughts track by track if you like.
Bloom: Ah, nothing says strong album opener like a 5 minute meandering soundscape. Those are some rad noises, but I think I will likely skip that track when it comes up in shuffle mode. Maybe I will listen super hard and super loud when I am trying to “get it”, with the whole album. Hey, is that the percussion from “Where Bluebirds Fly” on the There There single, filtered just ever so slightly differently? Just right at the end there? IS IT?
MorningMrMagpie: Here is one in a tried and tested, familiar song structure: Verse, Chorus, Kind of bridge thing, Kind of verse again, is that the chorus again under that whooshing thing? It was! ABCA1B1? Just like Buddy Holly would have written after his death.
LittleByLittle: I’m still kind of looking for my way “in” to this album. This one is a more traditional song than the previous two tracks, and approximates rock so far. I am warming to the swept-away-by-a-river thing that this album seems to be doing, and the fidelity and detail of the production is quite striking. I still lament that I haven’t found a sing-along song yet, but this is a cool aural experience.
Feral: Normally, when I am composing my weirder electronic music, I am worried I will bore my listener if I make them sit through 16 bars of anything. I think what’s going on here is that I’m suppsed to get familiar with all the skittering and edit-heavy vocals, and then note the small changes so that the details are highlighted. I think that is a possibility, but I also think it is possible somebody took a nap on keyboard with the Delay Designer plugin up, and when they awoke this song was finished (Yeah, yeah, I know they are Pro Tools guys, not Logic. Whatever).
LotusFlower: This has some lovely vocals on it, and again, the complexity and detail of the production is remarkable. Days and days must have been spent noodling with this track after the recording of the musical performances to get the audio as carefully rearranged and entangled as it is. Still not tapping my toe, but my socks are knocked off by the effort. I would love to know who produced this, credits do not appear to be on the website…
Codex: Ah, cool transition between one track and the next, there is a weird backwards echo thing happening at the beginning of this track, and a blip of a vocal, sounds a bit like one of those happy accidents in the studio. Of course, given how much time I assume has been spent on the production of this album, I am hard pressed to assume it is indeed accidental- The blip of the vocal is in the same key as the other vocals once they start, almost like a digital version of a tape mistake… This is a sad ballad, and the vocals are right up front, which I like- Lots of reverb still, but the up-frontiest vocals so far. I almost said that about LotusFlower, but these vox are up-fronterer. Are those, awww, French horns? I’m a sucker for those ever since every time the Beatles used them. Oh, strings too, this is lovely, but still exceedingly soundscapey, and I find myself wishing the pianos weren’t buried beneath that phasing effect or whatever it is… What’s going on at the end here? Some backwards noise and birds chirping leading into…
GiveUpTheGhost: The chord structures on these albums are really remarkable. Nobody sounds like these guys, or writes like them. This is a very pretty acoustic thing, but again with insane amounts of production. There is a plate reverb that is so distorted that what at first sounds like a trombone is in fact Thom’s voice. Try to make that sound like it isn’t an insult: “Yo, Thom, you sound like a trombone through a Realistic mic from Radio Shack, in a good way”. The reapeating backing vox “Don’t hurt me.” are at first haunting, but become tiresome by the end. This is another track I wish could have been stripped somewhat more bare, but then I was critical of In Rainbows for sounding a bit to plain and straighforward, so, how can anyone win?
Separator: This is the last track, I guess. This is weird, the guitar tone is sounding very seventies somehow, a bit Zeppelin maybe? I’m sure Jonny Greenwood is sick of distortion, which has been evident for the last few albums, and this is almost shockingly clean in places, and then awash in so much delay and reverb in other places it sounds like the guitars are down a well. Actually, somebody should check and see if either Jonny or Ed are, in fact, down a deep well. They may need snacks. What’s this? Oh wait- Yeah, just like that, the whole song and the whole event is over, trickling away.
Well, that album is full of skillful perfermances, unusual and original writing, extraordinary production, and impressive mastering. The clarity and detail of every note is there, and I look forward to Radiohead releasing an album with some fucking songs on it.