Review: Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool

Scoring number one album in the UK charts with A Moon Shaped Pool is a good indicator that Radiohead’s ninth album is a providential gift to fans.

After removing all trace of their existence on the Internet the release of the album was impending and the style in which it was given to the world stirred up the mandatory talk that comes when an artist drops an album without forewarning. It’s become somewhat of a style now with musicians.

The album is a follow-up of Radiohead’s last LP The King of Limbs – a dazzlingly sonic record. The release was ushered by two singles, ‘Burn the Witch’ and ‘Daydreaming’ The former opens on a choppy orchestral with col legno effects, which resonate through the track. Combined with Thom Yorke’s unsettling falsetto it achieves the doomy and disquieting atmosphere depicted in the video.

‘Daydreaming’ is a cinematic track with planetary reaches – its elemental and fleeting nature is interlaced with subdued vocals, while the celestial ‘Decks Dark’ has an inexorable intimacy – the word atmospheric is too often thrown around in music, but Yorke’s ascending vocals and titillating notes of the song combine beautifully to achieve an atmosphere.

Desert ‘Island Disk’ offers some relief from the other tracks with an acoustic-led arrangement and folky tendencies, while ‘Ful Stop’ feels like walking into a warped dream with its propelling rhythm and spinning electronics.

The broken hearts make it rain of ‘Identikit’ is haunting with a chorale filled refrain and skitteringbeats. Yorke split with his wife of 23 years in 2015, which lends heavily to the track’s short sombre presence on the album. The Numbers is a melodic and ethereal track that reaches its apogee beautifully like so many Radiohead songs.

‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief’ is tastefully cinematic, echoing the beautifully composed work of Thomas Newman. It’s a track with all the grace of a flawless film score.

The album ends on ‘True Love Waits’ – a fan favourite with an intense depth, yet on listening to Yorke sing ‘true love waits’ a sense of relief is inspired.

A Moon Shaped Pool is an album that becomes more and more desiderated on multiple listens. It’s sooften the case with bands that have been around for a while to sound relevant, but in that pursuit the fundamental cohesion of an album is mislaid. Radiohead however, constantly evolve to achieve a cohesive sound that is distinctly theirs while covering so much of the musical landscape. This is an album that stands confidently among Radiohead albums.

A Moon Shaped Pool tracklist:

Burn The Witch
Decks Dark 
Desert Island Disk
Full Stop
Glass Eyes
The Numbers
Present Tense
Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief
True Love Waits
A Moon Shaped Pool is available to download now.

By Hanna Duggal