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The best Radiohead offering in 15 years.
That will not be a popular statement among those whose faith in Radiohead was rekindled by “In Rainbows” but that record never did strike a major chord with me. It is obviously a good record, just not a great one. [Editor’s Note: They have never put out a “bad” one, and yes, that includes “Pablo Honey.” Haters be damned. Just because it isn’t as cerebral or “deep” as “Kid A” doesn’t mean it isn’t a good collection of traditional rock songs that are wholly indicative of the 90s alterna-rock sound.] Sandwiching “In Rainbows” were the two overall weakest Radiohead outputs, so it was no easy feat to bring me back into the fold, especially when I was so deeply rooted in the rock sound of their earlier work, but “A Moon Shaped Pool” has made me a believer again. [Editor’s Note: “The Bends” is still my favorite Radiohead record. Yeah, I’m old. Wanna fight about it?]
You couldn’t have been a sullen kid in the 90s without loving Radiohead. I cut my teeth on the videos for “High and Dry” and “Fake Plastic Trees” on late night MTV. [Editor’s Note: Is there a bigger tragedy in modern television history than MTV? I can honestly say that I haven’t tuned into that abortion of a network in over 15 years. It pains me to say such a thing because there was a time in my young life where immediately upon entering a room with a television, I would flip to MTV in the hopes of catching a Duran Duran video.] Then the landscape of popular rock music was changed forever by “OK Computer.” It was a great time to be alive (and melancholy). Next, Radiohead turned its collective fanbase upside down with the strikingly radical “Kid A.” The reason I ended up knowing that “Kid A” was destined to go down in history as one of (if not the) best albums of the 2000s was how easily I made the transition from “Let Down” to “Idioteque.” I was initially of the mindset that bloops and bleeps were not conducive to a “rock” record. Little did I know that Radiohead did not intend to make a rock record. They intended to transcend the genre.
It took me a little while to come to terms with the fact that Radiohead’s mid-period lull came into fruition after “Amnesiac.” They simply faded into the background while my musical tastes continued to develop in other areas. Then the hype train for LP9 left the station. r/Radiohead had already been prematurely whipping themselves into a frenzy based on speculation for an entire year but when Radiohead started deleting their social media footprint and began fading out their website, I couldn’t help but feel intrigued. Dropping two drastically different videos in a week solidified the deal. I was all in. So when the day finally came, I was counting down the minutes until 2pm Eastern. When I first saw the track list, I was shocked. “True Love Waits”?!?! That song is over 20 years old!! The way Radiohead re-imagined it into the context of AMSP not only revitalized a song older than most college sophomores who are just now discovering “OK Computer” but also turned it into the defining moment of AMSP. TLW is the unexpected payoff to a record that caught everyone by surprise.
As with most of Radiohead’s releases in the last decade plus, I could have used a bit more guitar out of Ed and Jonny, but AMSP has allowed the rhythm section to stand more firmly in the spotlight thanks to some outstanding bass work from Colin, as evidenced by “Ful Stop” and “Idenitkit”. The rest of AMSP is very desolate and orchestral in nature which revisited a darker, more brooding atmosphere that had not been as prevalent or well-defined over the last 3 or so releases. And it was just what the doctor ordered.
I wanted to wait as long as possible to write this review as I knew after the first handful of listens that I needed to go deeper, so I gave it an entire week. Even then, I am not sure if I did it justice. I think that the inherent depth of emotion and instrumentation is what separates AMSP from the more recent Radiohead releases. Fans and critics alike will be discovering new meaning in these 11 tracks for a long time to come. For me, this record is simply dark, gorgeous, and heart-wrenching. It made me realize that I am truly blessed to have grown alongside the greatest band of my generation.
4/5 stars = Great
“Broken hearts make it rain.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]
Check it out here!