Monday, February 21, 2011
Radiohead, Won't You Let Me Back In Your Heart
Do you ever feel like sometimes you are just not in on the joke? The way I loved Radiohead's "OK Computer" is not unlike having that best friend that you shadowed 24-7. The friend you wanted to do everything with, and go everywhere with. Then one day, he just wants no part of you. You ask him why, but he just laughs and makes you look the fool. (See "Hail To The Thief,""Amnesiac, "Kid A," and "In Rainbows.")
I admit there are moments on Radiohead's last release, "In Rainbows" that don't make me want to punch them, but I don't think I'd be unreasonable if I asked them, "What did I ever do to you? I was your friend."
Even more frustrating is the continued loyalty from both critics and fans over music, that for the last ten years has become less and less accessible, and more like some selfish experiments gone awry.
As one friend put it, when finding out Radiohead was about to release "The King Of Limbs":
"I love the way they've made their own world and they live it in."
I agree and completely admire the band for doing what they want, both on the business end of matters and with the music. But what about that music?
"The King Of Limbs," continues to travel on that same convoluted path of blips, squeaks, textures, drones and gibberish that has made one of the great bands of all time seem more like a bunch of pretentious wankers taking the piss on everyone in their way.
I've listened to "King Of Limbs" three times, uninterrupted. And like each of the aformentioned post-"Ok Computer" records, I find myself straining to find melody, or something small to hang onto for any period of time. I want to love this record. Hell, I'd be happy to not mind this record. But again, Radiohead has handed us a collection of songs that sound like outtakes or b-sides.
Songs like "Bloom" and "Feral" are the type of nerve-shredders Brian Eno used to compose in his sleep, only underneath the random sounds of chaos, Eno also offered a melody, that on its own, would usually break your heart. I am also tired of the programmed drumming that sounds like a drunken Amtrak train. Even when the band stumbles onto something worthwhile like "Lotus Flower" or "Separator," the songs are immediately sabotaged by arrangements that draw more attention to the fact that just maybe this band has run out of songwriting gas.
And please, for all of you Radiohead fans who want to disagree with me, or show me a thing or two, or tell me what I'm not hearing, I ask that you please refrain from one thing. Find something other than the hackneyed "you're living in the past" excuse. I loved this band. There's nothing wrong with wanting songs on a new album.