Radiohead: A Moon Shaped Pool album review
Modern giants Radiohead return with their best album for a decade.
Although lavished with praise by critics, Radiohead’s last record The King of Limbs failed to connect with a significant part of their fan base. Whatever that album’s shortcomings were, their ninth LP A Moon Shaped Pool does not share them. From the upbeat, percussive strings and expansive chorus of opener Burn The Witch, it’s immediately clear that Radiohead are on the kind of arresting, revelatory form that’s been largely absent since 2003’s Hail To The Thief.
The extracurricular orchestral and soundtrack work of guitarist Johnny Greenwood, long a growing influence on Radiohead’s studio recordings, is now at the fore. In concert with the sound-design and ethereal guitar work of Ed O’Brien, this development has been striking. There are plenty of cinematic moments: the strings on Burn The Witch; the choral arrangements on Decks Dark; the eccentric string flourishes on The Numbers and electronic swells building toward the crescendo of Desert Island Disk. Even with the number of layers and textures present, it’s tastefully done, with a certain sparseness left in the mix to prevent it from becoming overbearing. Keeping a more ‘organic’ instrument like piano or guitar to bind everything together along with Thom Yorke’s voice also lends coherence to the material.