It’s hard to believe that five years have passed since the release of Radiohead’s previous LP, “The King of Limbs”. And in the case of Radiohead, time really does fly when you’re having fun! If by “fun” you mean experiencing intense feelings of alienation, ennui and a general sense of apprehension about the entirety of human existence. On Radiohead’s new LP “A Moon Shaped Pool”, these seasoned British art-rockers have stormed back to release another musical opus, filled with anthemic jams, hook-laden pop, and funky beats galore.
LOLZ, jk ya’ll—this is Radiohead. They are still completely freaking miserable.
The album starts strong with “Burn the Witch”, the newest in a recent trend of songs about anxiety attacks (see Frightened Rabbit’s “Painting of a Panic Attack” and Chvrches’ “Clearest Blue”). Lead vocalist Thom Yorke has never sounded more confident singing about crippling uncertainty. Other album highlights include ode to telegraphy “Ful Stop” and “Glass Eyes”, a steamy love song dedicated to Broadway veteran Sandy Duncan.
The album stumbles somewhat in the middle, as Jonny Greenwood occupies tracks 7-13 with an orchestral work entitled “23 Minutes of Your Life You’ll Never Get Back”. The piece, over 20 minutes in length, is as adventurous as is it unlistenable, with long periods of what sounds like a tea kettle being smashed repeatedly with a cricket bat.
Thankfully, the band gets back on track with “Creep 2016”, an updated version of their seminal alt-rock hit from 1992. Though some critics argue that this single is a cheap cash grab, designed to capitalize on 90s nostalgia, it’s hard not to be moved by the lyrics, specifically the chorus:
“I’m still a creep.
Still a loser.
Why the hell am I still here?
I still don’t belong here!”
And while themes of anxiety and depression are a staple of Radiohead’s music, this reviewer was disappointed to find that the band had inserted an 8 minute advertisement for anti-anxiety drug Xanax into the middle of their album. And the fact that the deluxe digital edition of the album includes a rebate code for a 30 day supply of Alprazolam from a Malaysian internet pharmacy, will surely provoke a heated debate about the intersection of art and commerce.
Closing out the album, Radiohead delivers a gut-wrenching cover of Snoop Dogg’s classic “Ain’t No Fun If the Homies Can’t Have None.” It’s music that makes a listener look deep inside their soul, asking themselves if it is truly possible to experience happiness at a time when technology and media, environmental destruction and political strife, depression and addition—every element of our modern existence—have conspired to create a world in which it is neigh impossible for the homies to even have *some*.
This is the world we live in. And on “A Moon Shaped Pool”, Radiohead proves that they understand this world better than anyone.
(EDITORS NOTE: The Briar 92.7 fronted Joey Headset $10 to purchase a digital download of this Radiohead album so that he could review it for our website. After posting this “review” and being subjected to a savage beating from our General Manager, Mr. Headset admitted that he hadn’t actually listened to the album, choosing to instead spend the $10 on pizza and Guatemalan wine coolers. We regret any confusion caused by this review.)