Perhaps the defining feature of The King of Limbs is that it doesn't feel like a 'big' album.
In fact, it feels exactly the opposite.
The King of Limbs is very much a rhythm-driven album;
skittering, off-kilter beats underpin the majority of the songs on show.
As is Radiohead's custom, The King Of Limbs hasn't been designed for immediate comprehension or acceptance.
Maybe more context, and a little more heart, will make The King of Limbs feel less unreal.
More to the point, like Amnesiac, much of this material seems on first listen tinged with abstraction and elliptical constructions. The songs do not register as pop, or even art-pop or whatever other hyphenated monikers we could’ve rightly used to describe the bright and crisp In Rainbows.
Each time I listen to , my ears are drawn to a new layer of ambience;
a recording nuance I missed on a prior listen, a lyric that draws me in and sticks with me, a piece of electronic percussion that I didn’t notice without listening on headphones, or a hypnotic piano, rolling bass line or minimalistic guitar line.
There’s just incredible depth to , and if you’re impatient, you’ll miss it.
....none of the things that Radiohead spent their career dismantling could possibly substitute for the answer; although, even after several tracks with impassioned lyrical sloganeering and ambitious, studio-enhanced sonic bluster, they don’t seem to have an answer themselves. “Separator” features Yorke playfully taunting the same audience that has, yet again, been led bewildered into a wilderness.
The King of Limbs demands some deep immersion for comprehension, just as a traveler from a foreign land must lose himself in the culture to understand where they are.
For the most part, though, The King of Limbs lingers in states of emotional and physical in- between-ness — blooming, diving, flirting, floating, falling. The album's most striking moment might be "Codex," an invitation to leap into the unknown that recalls classic Radiohead more than anything else here. It's just Yorke at the piano accompanied by what sounds like a very depressed EKG machine; the melody luxuriates in pillowy ache, the lyrics are at once reassuring and creepy: "Jump off the end/The water's clear and innocent." Maybe it's about a drowning, maybe it's about a swimming lesson.
The fun is in not knowing. Taking the plunge into this band's mysteries is one of rock's true pleasures.
Where “In Rainbows’’ was mellow but brisk — an album that felt on its way somewhere — these songs are eerie and insidious, creeping like shadows — and, often because of the haunting voice of Thom Yorke, the occasional chill....
Its grandest gesture is the absence of one.- Boston Globe
From “Pablo Honey” in 1993 through “The King of Limbs,” released last week on short notice via the group’s website, the English band’s most consistent hallmark has been the restless wanderlust of a never-ending search for what’s next....These are not songs that unfold on first listen, or even necessarily on third or fourth. That’s more of a commitment than many music fans are willing to make, and fair enough — it’s been a long time since Radiohead made records with an eye toward anything more than satisfying the band’s own creative impulses, if it ever did....
Those who are prepared to stick it out, though, may well find “The King of Limbs” worth the wait.-Hatford Courant
Still, swirling in there with Yorke’s apocalyptic surrealisms and his band’s tricky rhythms,
there’s a beating heart that feels almost animal.
If The King of Limbs doesn’t feel alive to you at first, give it some time to wake up.