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Why King of Limbs is Radiohead's most worthless recording and we should all hate music with beats

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Why don't people just like and dislike things without the need for an essay. No offense OP but doesn't matter if it shaped the course of music for the next twenty years, if people don't like it, they don't like it.

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I can't read the full thread title on my phone

 

it reads 'Why king of limbs is radioheads greatest album to use as a doorstop or prop up a wobbly chair' 

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Wow. Brilliant essay. Expresses many of my own feelings far better than I'd ever be able to articulate.

 

I wouldn't say it is their "greatest" or "most influential" by a long shot. But certainly their most underrated and misunderstood. KoL was a new sound for a new decade, like Kid A was, but even more so. And just like Kid A, it received a pretty savage reception from some quarters. But the reception was somewhat worse, since while Kid A was still a 'big bang' album despite its experimental style, KoL was a deliberately understated effort. 

 

KoL is supposed to be short; it's supposed to be narrow in style; it's supposed to be subtle. It is clearly NOT supposed to be comparable to The Bends, OK Computer or Kid A, each of which was hailed as the "best album ever" in its time. It is an experiment; not just musically, but also in form. 

 

In that respect it's very different to In Rainbows, which clearly was an attempt to make another "best album ever". After the massive effort involved in producing In Rainbows, they decided that "best album ever" was too much pressure to put themselves under each time they went to do something (HTTT was similar in that they rushed through it to avoid repeating the agony of the Kid Amnesiac sessions).

 

Furthermore, after IR they were clearly sceptical - I remember interviews to the effect - about the whole future of the "album" concept itself, in an age without physical discs, where it is effortless for each listener to create their own individual playlists, where "singles" (and therefore B-sides) are effectively redundant. 

 

Also let's not forget they weren't as young as they used to be either. They had families, and all the money they needed. IR would have been a high note on which to exit. Instead they took a long break and started doing more individual projects. Around 2009 we were hearing stuff about the next release probably being an EP instead of an LP. Then they dropped "These Are My Twisted Words" - as a torrent.

 

This song (personally a top-fiver) is the "first" KoL track, not Bloom. Its lyrics, along with the accompanying artwork - which introduce the KoL aesthetic - explain (in "twisted words") what they were thinking: 

 

"When are you coming back?"/"I just can't handle it".  

 

They couldn't handle making another IR at that juncture - it would drive them mad. The ascii art referenced the "Wall of Ice" that was destroying the record industry and the traditional album concept. The artwork accompanying the download was supposed to be printed on tracing paper and put "in an order that pleases you"; a reference to the new way that people listen to music (it could also be arranged to spell out the words "King of Limbs"). When the album did come out, it was an LP rather than an EP, but only barely. Radiohead EPs tend to be 7 songs long, this was 8 songs long, including "Feral". The thing was deliberately short. It was clearly a purely studio composition, produced without the band members even being physically together for the most part; completely different to IR. Stylistically it is extremely tight-knit, with each song flowing to the next within an obvious theme. But as the name suggests, these 8 songs were only part of the overall work; the "limbs" (TAMTW, supercollider/the butcher, staircase/daily mail, all of which are too good to be considered "B-sides" to the main thing) are there as well and can be put "in an order that pleases you", although it is my opinion that they don't really fit when inserted into the 8.

 

I also interpret some of the lyrics of "Little by Little" and "Separator" as being self-referential towards the whole experiment. The whole "newspaper album" thing was also making the point that it wasn't a 'big bang' statement, it was an instalment in something progressive.

 

I was expecting that more "limbs" would follow the daily mail/staircase, but I think either that they hadn't intended any more, or they decided the whole "limbs" release method wasn't really getting a good reception and decided to save future limbs for the next LP. In fact the overall negative reception to KoL might have made them reassess their fans' open-mindedness towards anything other than a traditional LP. (It might be my imagination, but I interpret the lyrics of "Full Stop" as having something to do with the reaction to KoL.)

 

Anyway, I think this may be why they're taking so long on LP9; that they've gone back to trying to produce another "best album ever". Or at least I'm hoping so. Because as much as I personally love KoL (and think that song-for-song, the album and it's "limbs" are as solid as anything they've done), I would love for LP9 to be a double-album like IR or (even better) Kid Amnesiac. But I recognise how much I'm asking for of a band that must sometimes think it impossible to meet the standards they've set for themselves.

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While I currently don't have the presence  of mind to be able to write a coherent essay right now, I will say that I agree. TKOL is a criminally misunderstood record, one that I definitely think was ahead of its time. It wasn't until 2013 that the rest of indie music caught up. As much as I like that record though, I'm definitely ready for LP9. Five years is long enough to wait, and if the rumors are to be believed there won't be much waiting left to do.

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The problem with King of Limbs is that it was a near perfect album put together by MUSICAL GENIUSES. It can be hard to get your head around, because their craft is so advanced. When you combine the pop and indie electronic sensibilities of Thom with Johnny's world class classical composition skills -plus all the virtuoso touches the other members toss in - the result is almost unholy good. There's nothing else like Radiohead in the world. I mean, that instrumental crescendo/bridge in "Bloom"... that's better than most bands' entire catalogs IMO. 

And mind you, this is coming from someone that became a fan around Kid A's released and loved in In Rainbows. 

 

See, what I've really come to appreciate about Radiohead is that they're a band you can grow with. They have no conceptual ceilings, and they seem able to find inspiration from nearly any genre of music. And at the core of it all, you always have Thom's supreme melodic sensibilities.

 

 

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See, what I've really come to appreciate about Radiohead is that they're a band you can grow with. They have no conceptual ceilings, and they seem able to find inspiration from nearly any genre of music. And at the core of it all, you always have Thom's supreme melodic sensibilities.

 

I agree one hundred percent with this. As Radiohead mature and do different things, so do you. Every album that has come out so far has been released in various different stages of my life, but they all felt relevant to me regardless of what age I was. Even with their recent increase in millennial fans, there really is no concurrent age group for their fanbase overall because of that aspect of their music.

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 I've been listening to Radiohead since 1998. I'm one of the older fans I guess. But I really liked TKOL  from the start. It's a solid album. In my opinion, it's just as good as Ok Computer and Kid A. But people have their own tastes, but it was a bit shocking to see the outright hate for it when it came out.  

 

I like In Rainbows, but TKOL has more replay value.

 

I think I have pretty good music taste. I should be able to notice a shit album, right?  Or maybe I'm just old and boring now. Maybe I prefer chamomile tea over beer. Maybe I'll start liking Kenny G too.

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I can't read the full thread title on my phone

but when you click to reply you can see it and then decide whether or not you actually want to reply ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ such is life on mt

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I like In Rainbows, but TKOL has more replay value.

 

I think you are right on the money with this. I think in terms of which album I rank higher I would say In Rainbows, I had more of an emotional connection to it, and it's beautiful simplicity.  But TKOL has way more layers, and you can keep hearing new things every time you listen. I think it mirrors Kid A in this fashion. They are both the types of albums that didn't necessarily jive on the first listen, but every subsequent listen it keeps expanding and revealing new things until you realize how brilliant it is.

 

It seems like In Rainbows was a reaction to those types of albums they had made in the past, and it was like them saying hey we can still do some pretty basic stuff and make it sound incredible, and they absolutely nailed it. I guess some would argue IR isn't "basic" but to me the songs seem way more stripped down and they are just songs being presented very naturally. I think in another era they could have taken those songs and experimented with them a lot more and made it something completely different. But just the fact they didn't, and still came out with such a masterpiece that rocks my socks off it'll continue to be my favorite I think.

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The King of Limbs came out prematurely. If Radiohead had released it in the Summer/Fall    and added Supercollider, The Daily Mail and Staircase, the reception for it would have been quite different.

 

Also, the artworks, which was clearly the wrong artwork to use as well when there were so many other ones that would have made for a better album cover.

 

 

1. Bloom

2. Morning Mr. Magpie

3. Little By Little

4. Feral

5. Lotus Flowers

6. Codex

7. Give Up The Ghost

8. The Daily Mail

9. Supercollider

10. Staircase

11. Separator

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For me, KoL isn't underrated at all. It has some real gems, but I didn't find the album very inventive on the whole. Many songs sounded like analogs of their older songs (Codex-Pyramid Song, Separator-Reckoner, Morning Mr Magpie-National Anthem), which is a big problem when you only put out a 35 min album. 

 

Bloom is really spectacular, no doubt. Lotus Flower is amazing. In fact, most of the songs really opened up for me live, but remained somewhat stagnant on the album.

 

Then we got the B-Sides. The reworked live version of Supercollider was pretty awesome, with the funky bass line, and These are my Twisted Words (if we are lumping that in with KoL) was so promising. But I will never understand how all of you seem to think the Daily Mail and Staircase are inventive or very good at all. They are good in that they are Radiohead songs, and Radiohead songs are almost always pretty good. But when you compare this lot of work to almost any period post Pablo Honey/early Bends, I think it falls short.

 

That being said, I was absolutely cool with KoL in that I think it was a stepping stone; a very rough creative period for the band, where they needed to get some things out of their heads. If you couple that with Thom polishing his electronic tendencies and Jonny composing with Penderecki and with Indian artists, this next phase promises to either be one of their best, or ACTUALLY progressive and edgy.

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