Radiohead — The King of Limbs
February 18th, 2011
I like to think of The King of Limbs being to In Rainbows as Amnesiac was to Kid A. I know it’s pretty much straight-up crazy to compare Radiohead albums like that, but there’s one key point I wanted to make: Like Amnesiac, The King of Limbs falls under the shadow of its far more accessible and cleanly defined predecessor.
The King of Limbs feels incomplete at first. It’s subdued throughout; it’s missing the intermediate track to wind things down before picking things up for the second half; it’s got the least-affecting closing track of any Radiohead album ever. But when you dig deeper into each track — and when you listen to it in full on a solid set of headphones or speakers — the details begin to unfold. And as always, it’s all about the details here.
For years, In Rainbows was infinitely listenable to me, just like Kid A was the definitive Radiohead album in my mind for at least a few years. But as time went on, it wasn’t Kid A that grew on me nearly as much as Amnesiac, its starker, less-revered companion album. But over the past few months, In Rainbows has started sounding hollow and lacking in substance; on the other hand, The King of Limbs is still full of surprises.