True to form, Radiohead delivers another anthemic masterpiece with their ninth album, A Moon Shaped Pool. The creative masterminds who make up Radiohead, joined by the likes of Pink Floyd and Beck, are some of the few musicians who are able to successfully mix the use of acoustic instruments and the more “techno” side of music via their use of a wide variety of sound effects. A Moon Shaped Pool allows lead guitarist and keyboardist Jonny Greenwood to showcase his impressive orchestral arrangements, balanced by the always quiveringly powerful vocals and brilliant lyrics (including such gems as “Broken hearts make it rain,” “The wings of love fly,” and “This is a low-flying panic attic”) of Thom Yorke.
Radiohead’s members are collectively so much more than just talented musicians; rather, they seem to be able to tap into our innermost musical yearnings and know how to pull the right heartstrings at the right times. This album does a great job of drawing in listeners who are already diehard Radiohead fans by sticking with some tunes that are more characteristic of their early sound (on songs such as “Daydreaming” and “Identikit”), but it will also attract some new fans with its more innovative and out-there sounds (as if “out there” can’t be used to describe everything that Radiohead does).
In addition to the more traditional-sounding Radiohead tunes, the band experiments with new and different elements such as the dancey number “Ful Stop,” the island music getaway “Present Tense” and the closest Radiohead will ever come to an acoustic singer-songwriter, guitar duo on “Desert Island Disk.” Perhaps one of the more striking elements of this album is the vastly different feeling between the first and last songs: the album starts with “Burn the Witch,” a rather witty upbeat number featuring choppy fiddles with an underlying layer of electronic buzz, and very stream-of-consciousness lyrics consisting of a string of clichés and non sequiturs, and ends with “True Love Waits,” the quirkiest yet most touching love song one’s probably ever heard. (One nerdy observation — the song list is in alphabetical order; is it coincidence that the order of the 11 tracks makes perfect sense this way, or another testament to the power of the genius that is Radiohead?)
Radiohead’s latest album can best be summarized as a veritable cacophony of sound. The music moves through your body, pulsates through your veins and takes you on a psychedelic journey, before dropping you off right where you started and wondering what the heck happened during the past hour. For those who are intrigued and desire to go on this incredible musical adventure (which, I assure you, is well worth the experience), A Moon Shaped Pool is available now for digital download, and will be out on CD and vinyl on June 17, with a special edition option available in September.
Key Tracks: Daydreaming, Identikit, Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief