Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Estrada Radio Reviews: Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool

Trying to say one Radiohead album is the best is an effort in futility. Each album has its own appeal and vibe and truly explores different musical experience. So naturally opinions will vary in regards to the value of The Bends, OK Computer, Kid A, In Rainbows or any album for that matter. 

But if there is something I can say with no ifs ands or buts about A Moon ShapedPool, it’s this:

This is the most beautiful Radiohead album ever

Johnny Greenwood did a fantastic job with the string arrangements to create a landscape where once again the band enters and exits seamlessly. Ask yourself this, what does each band member do in every song? This is the reason why Radiohead is such a good band, they gel and mesh into a dynamic musical stream that invites you to drift along with the music without it mattering who is playing what.

Delicate strings are juxtaposed with electronic beats and instrumentation varies a lot to create an album that is immediately accessible yet possesses enough depth to be listened to 13 times in two days. The album has moments that echo The King of Limbs, In Rainbows, Hail to the Thief, Kid A, and Amnesiac. I’m sure that as I listen more I’ll find hints and nods to the Bends and Ok Computer. I mention this not because it merits mentioning as if this were a throwback album; quite the contrary. There are echoes of these past great albums while pushing forward to create one of the most lushly textured albums by this band.

It is a mellow, gorgeous, humble, yet confident album, where everyone is on point. Thom Yorke’s vocals are beautifully melancholy and haunting, without being depressing. 

It’s like a sunset on Pluto, cold, crystalline, beautiful. 

It’s the good type of lonely, the one where you can get to grips with what’s tumbling in your head.

Album Rundown:

The album opens with the upbeat drumming strings of Burn the Witch, which includes brilliant lyrics including a “low flying panic attack”. Afterwards the album melts into Daydreaming, a crystalline track that sounds like the beautiful side of a broken dream. Decks Dark starts off with some low electronic beats and a beautiful piano that brings small echoes of Hail to the Thief. Desert Island Disk is a mellow song that reminds of Give up the Ghost (In Rainbows), but more ethereal. Ful Stop is one of the few gritty tracks and the droning beat definitely shows a change of pace. It’s a song that is a bit like 15 Step (In Rainbows) is dynamic and really takes its time to set the stage and build. Glass Eyes goes back to the tone set by the second track, but where glassy sounding electronics play next to a haunting strings that ease in and out of the track, appearing where they have to, while allowing the track to breathe even if it’s one of the shorter ones. Identikit brings the electronic beats back to the forefront, with Thom’s vocals in the background working more as an instrument than vocals for almost a minute. Then near the 2 minute mark, the song opens up a whole lot more and is one of the highlights of the album for the sheer variety of the track. Next up is The Numbers, another standout track with a mellow guitar riff and drums that serve as the perfect backdrop to Yorke’s haunting lyrics and just when you get comfortable with the song, around the 3:42 mark, strings like Zeppelin’s Kashmir really surprise and take this track to a whole other level. Present Tense is one of the mellower numbers on the album and serves as a wonderful track to balance out the album before leading into Tinker Tailer Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief, another showcase of a song where the string arrangements swing for the moon. But then as if that weren’t enough, the album closes with True Love Waits, an old song treated with such tender love that it is as fitting a way to close an album as you can envision and that even if we had to wait 21 years for an official release of this song, the wait for it and this album was completely worth it.

Track Listing:
1. Burn the Witch
2. Daydreaming
3. Decks Dark
4. Desert Island Disk
5. Ful Stop
6. Glass eyes
7. Identikit
8. The numbers
9. Present Tense
10. Tinker Tailer Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief
11. True love waits

TOP TRACKS: Burn the Witch, Daydreaming, Ful Stop, identikit, The Numbers, True Love Waits

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