Did you know that I’m a Radiohead fan? Probably not. You probably also don’t know that I saw Radiohead live at Earls Court when I was 11 years old. Even more interesting is the fact that I’m technically on the Japanese-release album Com Lag. Track one is 2+2=5, recorded at Earls Court, the exact date I went to see them.
But being a Radiohead fan is weird, because Radiohead themselves don’t really seem to give a fuck. They’re the sort of band that does whatever the hell it wants. Especially Thom Yorke. Albums are released pretty much at random, and every album, single and LP is wildly different from the previous ones.
Unfortunately, A Moon Shaped Pool doesn’t jump out at you straight away. It is genuinely a beautiful album, but it’s not something you sit down and actually listen to. You can’t really. It’s actually really dull and repetitive if you do.
Thankfully though, there’s far less beeping sounds. Someone finally managed to drag Thom away from the electric beeps and boops machine (although they’ll remain forever a staple in Thom’s solo work), and let more traditional instruments do some work for a change.
Best song: Burn the Witch
The first single on the album, with a really nice Camblewick Green/Trumpton video to go with it, is my personal favourite of the album. It feels like it has actual stuff going on, it has a bit of tension to it. But most of all, Burn the Witch feels like older Radiohead, more like Hail to the Thief, rather than King of Limbs. Also has a cooler video than the second single, Daydreaming.
Most disappointing song: True Love Waits
Having heard this song recorded live on the LP I Might Be Wrong, it’s really depressing how the studio version has come out on A Moon Shaped Pool. It was actually recorded back in the 90’s apparently, and thrown on this album to bulk it out, but that doesn’t improve my opinion on it. On I Might Be Wrong (which is all live recordings), True Love Waits is a beautiful song, it has an actual pace to it and feels like an actual song with actual lyrics. True Love Waits in A Moon Shaped Pool is a boring trudge through incredibly drawn out lyrics.
The song goes on forever, which is a real shame. I should have expected the studio version to be mediocre though, because another song from I Might Be Wrong, Like Spinning Plates, has a studio recording that was literally recorded backwards and has nothing on its live rendition. But at least Like Spinning Plates sounds interesting. True Love Waits may be a much older song, but it’s just so duuuuull.
Most interesting song: Identikit
Identikit is all over the place. Despite its 4:26 run time, Identikit is one of the middle-length songs on the album, and like everything but Burn the Witch, starts off quite slow and rather repetitive. The repeating goes on throughout the whole song, but it’s one of the times where Thom Yorke’s voice actually meshes rather well with the rest of the song. There’s also more stuff going on than in most of the other tracks, which is nice.
Overall, this is not an album you listen to when in a good mood. If you want to make the most out of A Moon Shaped Pool, you put it on in the background when you’re doing something tedious. That way, you will actually absorb some of it. Otherwise, you’re kinda wasting your time.
Still, it’s a nice album, and it’s one that will slowly make you like it more. It’s a grower.
Anyway, I’m off now. Gonna go listen to OK Computer. And Hail to the Thief. Forgot how good an album that was, and A Moon Shaped Pool (particularly Identikit) reminds me a bit of it.