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Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool CD (album) cover

A MOON SHAPED POOL

Radiohead

 

Crossover Prog

3.89 | 374 ratings

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LearsFool
Prog Reviewer
5 stars There are several things that are very special about very eclectic artists and bands, but what sticks out to me is the unpredictability that results, and how that effects the lead up to a new album. When you look at a band like Radiohead, who make a habit out of defying expectation, trying new things, digging up old songs, and being cryptic as all heck heading towards a release, this is particularly acute. You're left wondering and wondering and hoping and scraping through muck with your bare hands to figure out anything you can about what Oxford's finest's next adventure has in store.

Then comes actually listening to their shiny new sound.

To be so crass as to compare this to older albums, this is mostly something of a mashup of "Amnesiac" and "In Rainbows", taking electronics and orchestration familiar to the former, with a bit of the roulette style of tracklisting, and crossing it with the accessibility, flow, and sonic-smoothie-esque flavours of the latter. Of course, you'll be able to trace where "The King of Limbs"'s electronics led to this - and now we see a confirmed pattern of comparative experimentation and comparative accessibility between every two 21st century head unit albums - and the closing studio version of "True Love Waits" (!) has electronics that instead buck the album's holding pattern and remind of "Kid A", but the first comparison should give you an idea of what to expect.

Side note from TLW: this has the highest turnover rate of any album of theirs in terms of older songs finally getting finished: "Burn The Witch", "Ful Stop", "Identikit", "Present Tense", even TLW, which did have an official release as a live cut a decade ago. This alone makes "A Moon Shaped Pool" a necessary listen. Go team!

More specifically, the tracks sound as follows... "Burn The Witch" is an outlier, a tense, string driven, practically chamber piece, with lyrics suggesting government round ups and McCarthyism. "Daydreaming" and "Decks Dark" announce the main electronic styles of the record, and flow into each other well. The former, up to its positioning, distantly recalls "Pyramid Song". The tracks debuted by Thom in Paris last year, "Silent Spring" and "Desert Island Disk", come to us as acoustic guitar driven songs that are surrounded by more electronics and complimentary strings, with the former now called "The Numbers" - "The Present Tense" also ended up with a similar treatment. "Identikit"'s prog-friendly structure has been perfected, and it is the other driving part of the album. "Tinker Tailor" features an electronic rhythm. "True Love Waits" comes off as a more natural "Motion Picture Soundtrack". The remainder compare to the mid-album tracks from "In Rainbows" while sticking to the flavours of the rest of this one.

And it's one of the best albums of the year. But what else did you expect from Radiohead?

LearsFool | 5/5 |

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