The King of Limbs
After the striptease of its release, Radiohead's eighth album, The King of Limbs, is here - finally and all of a sudden. Opener Bloom sets the tone for the first four songs: a trickle of pianos, a reverberating alarm-call buzz, some off-kilter snares, and Thom Yorke wailing like recent Rufus Wainwright.
The music is arresting, but hard to put your finger on: circling electronic eddies that gather up Flying Lotus and Apparat before whirling down the drain. Morning Mr Magpie is a tightly wound hymn to plagiarism or possibly the banking crisis. Little by Little starts like a sinister James Bond theme, before going nowhere prettily. The instrumental Feral recalls Amnesiac's more jittery moments.
The second half is more memorable. Lotus Flower is tuneful, slinky and dreamily funky. Best of all is the astounding Codex, as beautiful a song as Radiohead have ever produced: an aching piano ballad that yearns for the peace of escape or even oblivion. Give Up the Ghost is folk music beamed in from outer space. If you stopped liking Radiohead after OK Computer, then The King of Limbs will do little to win you back. But if you enjoy music that reveals itself gradually, that tantalises, challenges and slowly beguiles, then you'll listen for years.