Album Reviews

First Listen Review: Radiohead – The King of Limbs

I haven’t done one of these in a while. Here’s my first listen reaction to Radiohead’s the King of Limbs. My opinion will probably change over time, but there’s nothing quite like hearing a new album for the first time, particularly when Thom Yorke is involved.

A weak opener I must say. I hope the entire album isn’t like this. In Rainbows was probably Radiohead’s most accessible record, so hopefully this one won’t counterbalance that by being the least. If this song is your first introduction to Radiohead (if it is shame on you), then you might be wondering what all the fuss is about.

‘Morning Mr Magpie’
Now this is better. Much more beat-driven, much more friendly on the ear. Hints of Hail to the Thief, and an utterly gorgeous latter half have redeemed them after a disappointing beginning.

‘Little By Little’
Oasis had a song of the same name out in 2002, it was off their crap album, Heathen Chemistry. Amazingly, the chorus in this sounds a small bit similar. Just a very small bit. The rest of it is pure Radiohead though.

The title describes this one perfectly. It’s like the onomatopoeia of a Heaney poem, the name of this one describes the song. It’s a wild, mangled, untamed song, which you’ll never hear on any radio station. It’s probably the song most likely to receive the “skip” treatment.

‘Lotus Flower’
We saw the video just an hour or two ago, so had some little time to familiarise ourselves with it. The lead single, it has Yorke’s vocals teasing at the heady days of OK Computer, but the melody and beats are more In Rainbows-era Radiohead.

I was not expecting this, particularly after the first half of the album. A much slower song, it’s a mysterious, yet achingly beautiful tune, that will probably be the song we keep returning to. It’s like a much-improved version of ‘Videotape’. The highlight so far.

‘Give Up the Ghost’
Another slow-burner, this one has been a live staple for a while, and doesn’t sound all that different on the album. Which is disappointing. I would’ve preferred a brand new tune, or had they totally reimagined this one. It’s a bit dull to be honest.

Another floaty track, ending the album well. It’s a sparse song, but is a beautiful tune nonetheless. Vocal effects are a big disjointed, but adds to the charm of such a stripped-back song. The riff that kicks in half-way through is gorgeous.

That’s it. Listen #1 of The King of Limbs over. In Rainbows grabbed me more on first listen, but I feel that this album might have a lot more to discover underneath. Definitely not disappointing, but it is a bit patchy (blame Harry).

[xrr rating=3.5/5]

Related posts:

  1. Album News: Radiohead – The King of Limbs
  2. News: Download Radiohead’s The King of Limbs now
  3. Live Review: Radiohead – Verizon Wireless Music Center, Indianapolis, IN, 3rd August 2008
  4. Download: Radiohead – These Are My Twisted Words
  5. Watch: Radiohead, Glastonbury 2010


  1. You’re an absolute fool for “reviewing” this album not even an hour after release. You’ll be regretting this poor excuse for quality journalism later.

  2. Michael: It’s not a proper review. How can anything on day 1 be a proper review. I even state that in the opening lines:
    “Here’s my first listen reaction to Radiohead’s the King of Limbs. My opinion will probably change over time, but there’s nothing quite like hearing a new album for the first time, particularly when Thom Yorke is involved.”

  3. Slimjim

    On my second listen, pretty disappointed. A distinct lack of tunes covered in production, feels like a step backwards, maybe it will grow in time but I have a feeling it won’t.

  4. There’s a new Radiohead album? Meh. I stopped caring once they released the abomination that was Kid A.

  5. Ah you may actually like this one Niall. Maybe.

  6. Note I how I said “reviewed,” Ronan.


    about fourth listen in and inclined to agree with this review on the whole. I really want to like it but not there yet. A production album rather than a performance album. A crucial part of how I make sense of radiohead is how they pull it off live, so I may find myself revising the opinion too…

  8. I’m liking this album after repeated listens but I still don’t think it’s great. The marketing and the way in which the band released the album is the truly interesting part:

  9. Michael: it’s an opinion piece, not any attempt at the Pulitzer. You’ll see that the Telegraph did the exact same. But other publications claimed theirs were proper reviews. I did no such thing.

  10. Gmfoods: I’ve listened about 6 times now, and it’s still very much a mixed affair. Some of the songs are good, but some are throwaway. This album is more like the Eraser 2 than a proper Radiohead release.

  11. Hey Ronan,can we have you updated take on the album after repeated listens,must be up to 4 star now.

  12. Haha, brilliant Andrew. Still sticking with 3.5. I need another hundred listens.

  13. 3.5 out of 4 yeah (:

  14. Ronan,what songs are throwaway except for Feral for the uneducated ear? How would you rate the previous radiohead albums.

  15. Still Feral at the moment. I’ve probably grown to like the other songs that I originally labelled “throwaway” now, so it’s hard to tell. That said, the rating still stands. Particularly in comparison to their back catalogue.

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