The temptation to put up a review of this album on Friday seemed to poison the minds of even the most respected music editors. Much like the impulsive decision (excluding conspiracy theories) to release the album a day earlier than expected, journalists all over the world jumped at the chance to get a piece of the action before anyone else, thus creating a cesspit of 'exclusive' reviews. Ironically due to the speed in which they started to arrive, most intelligent music fans probably ignored all of those reviews anyway. We decided to stay clear of that.

We plan on reviewing this album properly in a few months time but until then, check out our initial thoughts on the album.


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The trouble with being Thom Yorke is that people expect something more from you. Everything you do, whether it be a radio interview, an act of support for a charity or an eighth studio album is surrounded by hype as fans wait with baited breath. The King of Limbs is no different. Would it be a new direction? How was this going to stand out? The answers are "no" and "it doesn't" respectively. Is that a problem? Not for me. The album may not be anything new for Radiohead, and fans expecting something more may be disappointed. My Twitter feed on Friday would certainly suggest they are. Radiohead are just a band though, and a great band at that. From anybody else this would be regarded as a fantastic album, and that is exactly how I rate it.

Written by Tim Brown


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The King of Limbs is a curious body of songs.

Though perhaps lacking in the bite and vitriol that sustains famous Radiohead offerings like '2+2=5', 'Bodysnatchers' or even 'Electioneering' there is some wonderfully compelling listening to be found amongst the album's eight tracks.

From the jittering rhythms of opening salvo 'Bloom' the group saunter through a notably upbeat collection of tunes. The gentle ebbing wash of this opening number, all clarinets and muted brass splashed over wandering bass work, is conflicted by an agitated electronic pacing that drives it towards a tense finish.

Faint echoes of Fourtet perennially stalk the background of the aptly-titled 'Feral' and refuse to subside - instead spilling into the looping sway of single 'Lotus Flower'. The album's undoubted ringleader Thom Yorke here finds a handsome match for his famous stream-of-conciousness delivery amid its dreamy sinewave keys.

The album slows as 'Codex' arrives to provide an arresting reminder of the malleable nature of the band. Though likely to be tagged as a sequel to the similarly piano-led Videotape, it is a more stately affair. Brooding its way through a subtle brass arrangement it's repeated calls of "slight of hand / jump off the end / into a clear lake" are Radiohead at their most affecting.

But their eight album history is one punctuated by bounded leaps between disparate styles. Breezing between genres, the Oxford band have adventured insistently since OK Computer and The King of Limbs is left battling hard to elude signs of there simply being nowhere left to turn for the quintet.

Written by Al Horner


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It almost feels premature to be writing up what in essence is a band-sanctioned leak, I treasure a record's artwork and box as intrinsic to the overall effect. And Radiohead's albums are usually beautifully designed pieces, the fold out Kid A landscapes in particular, offering an evocative complement to the album's musical content. But while I wait for the King Of Limbs double vinyl (the promised 625 pieces of artwork intrigues me), the world woke on Friday to a fervour, the kind the internet is so good at. This manifested in an early-morning live blog on the Guardian, where we waited for confirmation emails and download links to arrive in our inboxes - this entire process was made to look ridiculous and overdone, the equivalent of an email saying you'd received an email. Twitter too, made fools of us all - people suddenly feeling compelled to offer an immediate track-by-track review, as the album unfurled. This in particular griped at me, not merely for it's making Twitter practically unusable all day. Some things reveal themselves over time, after the even t- some music make sense only within it's context. So I found with 'Lotus Flower', the now-parodied video having been Youtube'd that morning. It underwhelmed on first and second listen, but within the context of the album - it's masterful.

My thoughts, then. The King Of Limbs strikes me as a smaller statement, akin to novella-sized disc that accompanied the In Rainbows box set - but infinitely more refined. There's a modesty throughout the arrangements, I hasten to use the word "ease", but the unpretentious nature abounds throughout these 8 pieces. Conventional Radiohead numbers 'Little By Little' and the reworked 'Morning Mr Magpie' (which first appeared as an acoustic number on The Most Gigantic Lying Mouth DVD) are comfortable and enjoyable beats - quite happy to ride a small groove - but these open the record up. 'Feral' is a particular favourite, calling to mind the experimentalism of the Amnesiac b-sides (which make a great 8 track record in their own right). And whilst I keep hoping for an album built solely of sounds like that - The King Of Limbs is the closest thing the band have thus far released as an album, that expresses their more downbeat, at ease, less song-oriented side. If there's one gripe to be had, it's in the sentimental 'Give up the ghost', a track which I'm sure many will find affecting, but sticks out with an unnecessary earnestness towards the album's end. Especially when set against the stunningly beautiful 'Codex', a song which evokes a similarly sombre atmosphere, but to much more powerful effect.

The attention to detail and quality of both production and arrangement is superb throughout, from the microbeats made of Thom's breath to the layers of modulated piano on 'Codex'. And whilst I await the double vinyl box set, I find that The King of Limbs has slid effortlessly into my consciousness, as if it were always there, and were meant to be so. Perhaps this is crucial, this is music made from a happiness to be making it, a comfort in oneself. I joked midweek that this contentment perhaps only manifests truly with middle-age, but regardless - in a week where PJ Harvey released another fine record, I am struck by the endearing notion that we enjoy the privileged position of watching these talented bands grow old and continue to make compelling, frequently beautiful, consistently intelligent music. Which in truth, more than makes up for daft live blogs and not being to use Twitter for a day.

Written by Amir Adhamy


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The King of Limbs is a slight disappointment. It never truly lifts off, although a few moments of genius are there, as always. Problem is, the songs meander a little bit. 'Bloom' and 'Morning Mr. Magpie' are hard to distinguish. It's not until 'Feral' that you get any proper change of pace.

After 'Feral', it seems the album recovers, with 'Give up the ghost' and 'Codex' being the best tracks. Not massively impressed with The King of Limbs, it does feel a little flat and morose, but it could be a grower. Time will tell.

Written by Samuel Valdez Lopez


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"It's out today?" I splutter. A day early, I wasn't anticipating this. I was meant to be in Sheffield over the weekend, and I was going to miss the release. This is excellent news! In a frenzied pace I log in and download the album, in mere seconds it's on my hard drive and I'm about to play it (thank you ridiculously quick internet). Something wrong though, "8 tracks? There's only 8?" I dart to the wiki page and my suspicions are confirmed. "Oh well", I mutter, "I suppose they are quite long tracks". But ultimately I'm unable to bite back the twinge of disappointment. This is the problem with Radiohead, they got me into music, they are the single most important band in my musical landscape. Radiohead matter to me. I haven't even listened to it yet and I'm disappointed, that's how high my expectations were. I pause before clicking on 'Bloom', if it was as good as Kid A would I be disappointed? Could my expectations ever be met?

On my first play I am inevitably disappointed. The King of Limbs lacks the immediacy and instant impact of their other albums. There are no moments like the first chords in 'Everything in it's right place', or the guitars in 'Just' that stun you. The King of Limbs is subtle and you're going to have to work to like it. I'd argue that this is Radiohead at their most accomplished. Whist what they have created here isn't their best work, if feels the most complete. It's a work about rhythm and textures, and it all slots together perfectly. 'Lotus Flower' rattles at us, unravelling slowly, seeping into my mind till all I could hear was it's beat and chord sequence. 'Codex' is genuinely beautiful, but ultimately it lacks the sort of genius and scale that I loved Radiohead for.

People will bill this as a return the Kid A era, but it's definitely set itself apart from those albums for me. Kid A and Amnesiac felt like Radiohead stretching, testing their boundaries, seeing what they were capable of. It was ambitious, and it was grand. There was an element of wonder there, a band genuinely excited about their work and partially that's why it's so good. The King of Limbs has none of this, if I could think of one inscribing word it would be comfortable. This is Radiohead knowing what they can do and doing it well. There's no wide eyed exploring here, there's no sense that they are giving their absolute all. Radiohead have hit their slightly boring middle age. I suppose that last sentence implies that I'm not overly enamoured with The King of Limbs, but that's not true. I've listened to it a unholy amount of times since Friday, and I've enjoyed each play. I've just never been excited by it, but it's clicked. It feels so accomplished, and it feels so very right. Radiohead's experiment is over, they know what they're doing and for the main part they're doing it very well.

Written by Daniel Offen


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The King of Limbs is a difficult one. As a huge fan of Radiohead, I'm finding it hard coming to terms with the fact that I'm really disappointed by the new album. There are, without doubt, moments of genius throughout the new LP, 'Little by Little' and 'Mr Magpie' for example are stunningly executed, complex, rhythmically driven masterpieces. Thom Yorke's vocals at times are excruciatingly beautiful, there are bass lines that undulate subtly throughout, and standing out above all else on this album is the percussion, it drives every song, and almost solely makes up for the total lack of melody. All that said, I have a feeling of dissatisfaction towards The King of Limbs. For the first time in my experience of Radiohead, I found myself thinking they sound like someone else, not the other way round as i have come to expect. There are huge swathes of 'Revolver' by The Beatles in 'Mr Magpie' and 'Little by Little', 'Four Tetâ' in 'Feral', Flying Lotus is everywhere, and the similarities between 'Codex' and 'Bon Iver' are squirmingly horrifying. And yes, of course these are all influences, but I don't listen to Radiohead albums to hear other people, I listen to Radiohead albums to hear what the next 5 years of music is going to sound like. It is in all, an odd experience. And while I can't deny that some of the musicianship in these songs is, for want of a better word, genius, the album doesn't sit easily with me, especially after the brilliance of In Rainbows, I feel somewhat saddened by this latest offering. Let's hope it's a grower...

Written by Joe Seaward


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Thom Yorke and his gang of intrepid music makers are back with a flash, bang and wallop. Oodles could be said about the process, development and press panic surrounding the release of <'The King of Lights' but us so called 'musos' only care about one thing. 'Bloom' opens the record with a literal blossom, slowly trickling it's way into existence, from delicacy to full blown spasmic beats and electronic glitch. This is pretty much a summary of the whole record, veering perilously from pretty, poetic pieces (as in 'Codex') to punching percussion and lashes of electronic manipulation (as in 'Feral'). This one-two ends up becoming a culmination of sorts for the band, leaving us with the notion that they are looking back on their collected career and attempting to meld it all together. Hopefully not for one last hurrah. Even when rehashing every idea they've ever had, Radiohead have produced an album that surpasses 99% of the current musical market.

Written by Adam Parker


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Typically, from OK Computer onwards really, I tend not to get a new Radiohead album first time round. I can't be alone in this, but I've learnt through experience not to trust my instincts on the first listen, or the second, third, forth... whatever it takes. I love them enough to give them the benefit of the doubt and they've never let me down. As such, whatever I say now will be completely off the mark and I may very well look back at this in a week's time - having given The King of Limbs its fiftieth spin - and laugh Homerically at my pathetic under-appreciation of the wonderful music I had been gifted. I am my own supercilious hipster.

So, cursed as I am with the knowledge that I am almost certainly completely and utterly wrong, I'm not overly impressed on the first listen. The songs mostly wash over me and Thom Yorke seems to have completely given up on singing with anything more than half a lungful of air. It sounds like he recorded the whole thing in bed, holding the microphone on his barely-inflated chest, occasionally turning away to ask the rest of the band if they could maybe play a little more quietly because we might wake the baby and then I'm in trouble. It's a Radiohead chillout album.

That said, I have been listening to the album for the second time as I write this and already there are fleeting moments where something really special suggests itself to me ("...'cause all I want is the moon upon a stiii-iiick..." damn that's nice). It's these moments that I latch onto, that pull me into an album and eventually smother me in gooey bliss. So this is probably what will happen in time with The King of Limbs, but right now I find it hard to believe. I am my own Cassandra.

Written by Matthew Grundy


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This album, to me, is one of two halves, although the use of echo, and the decision to let Thom Yorke's lyrics almost take a back seat, creates a relationship between each and every track.

The first half of the album is characterised by its agitated rhythms, a slightly aggressive tone even, such as on second track 'Morning Mr Blackbird' where Yorke asserts, "you've got some nerve coming here." This section of the album seems to be where the band is really stretching the limits and experimenting with their sound.

The second half, especially the last three tracks, is easier to listen to and perhaps picks up where In Rainbows left off. 'Codex' is my personal favourite, cool and ethereal and including a really beautiful use of brass. This mellow vibe continues on 'Give Up The Ghost' and on 'Separator'. The last song on the album, 'Separator's' refrain of "wake me up" is fitting because when The King of Limbs

Written by Emma Barlow