Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The King of Limbs - Radiohead

Throughout their career, Radiohead have made elegant jokes about everything, from the economic system to their fans. "My Iron Lung", one of the bands first worldwide hits, is nothing else but a powerful critique of the way the  industry works, as well as a joke about the idiocy of some fans. "Fitter Happier", which became some kind of prayer among teenagers in the late 1990s, is a joke about the middle-class and its false sense of happiness. 

After OK Computer, one of the best albums ever recorded, the band did not release anything for about six years, and when they came back, they released two albums (Kid A and Amnesiac) that had nothing to do with what they did before: electric guitars disappeared, while keyboards and samplers jumped in. Kid A, by the way, asserts that there are already cloned children spread around the World. After Kid A and Amnesiac, some people argued, not without reason, that one cannot like all the Radiohead albums: Kid A and Amnesiac are so different from the other productions, that only a die-hard groupie would like them all. By definition, rockers who liked "Creep", "Paranoid Android", etc, could not enjoy songs like "Revolving Doors" or "Dollars and Cents." And the opposite could be said of electro-hipsters who liked "Idioteque". Did they really understand songs like "Fake Plastic Trees"?

After a while, came Hail to the Thief. I'm still digesting it, so I won't comment about it.

With In Rainbows, the band put the assumptions of the neoliberal model to the test: the album was originally released at the band's website and fans could pay as much as they wanted, including 0. A special edition with 2 discs and a vinyl were sold by 40 pounds. Those who bought the special edition effectively subsidized the free-riders who got the album for free.

The King of Limbs is Radiohead's most recent experiment (joke) with their fans and with the press. One day, completely out of the blue, the band announced the immediate release of  their eighth album. Automatically, bloggers, twitter users, and fans around the World started writing about it, as if the band's productions didn't need time to be understood and digested. In an age when everything is communicated immediately, one of the last bands that make their fans reflect, thought it would be a good idea to make everyone comment about something they had never heard about... 

The King of Limbs is the first happy album of Radiohead so far. If youth is rage, Radiohead shows that adulthood can look like happiness. The band passed from wondering "How to disappear completely" to assert that everything will be OK. Yes, it will.

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