I’m sure everything that can be said about Radiohead‘s ninth album, A Moon Shaped Pool, has been said. I’m sure there’s plenty of opinions, both positive and not so positive, about it. What I will try to do is give my thoughts as a lifelong fan and music lover. So here it goes.
What I found most interesting about the album was the use of old and new technology in the recording process. Maybe inadvertently, maybe on purpose, it seems as it is a soundscape along Radiohead’s twenty-plus-year career. Some tracks appear to have been taken directly from Kid A (2000) or Amnesiac (2001). The inclusion of the long-awaited studio version of True Love Waits, a fan icon, is surprising, as it is beautiful. It is definitely not what you’d expect it to sound like, and it serves as a statement of the old blending in with the new.
Guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Jonny Greenwood can’t stop growing as an incredibly gifted musician. While the rest of the band worked on solo or alternate projects during their hiatus, Greenwood went on to film scoring and working with classical musicians. His string and orchestral arrangements on this album are sublime, and steal the show.
It’s nearly impossible to discuss the whole range of themes featured in the album, from climate change to social media to separation and forgiveness. It may also be kind of pointless, given that the true strength of a Radiohead album lies in the atmospheres and composition surrounding the vocals. In that aspect, A Moon Shaped Pool is as strong as an album can get. Nevertheless, we cannot ignore the songwriting genius of Mr. Thom Yorke, arguably one of the most prominent figures in music in the past two decades. His work in A Moon Shaped Pool stands out as intimate, personal and brutally honest.
I have to say, The King Of Limbs (2011) is not an album I like. I thought it was pretentious, complicated and insipid. So I was instantly happy when I first heard the full spectrum of A Moon Shaped Pool. I think, with fear of sounding arrogant, this is what Radiohead fans expect when they listen to a Radiohead album.
There are a lot of theories surrounding this album: that it may be a farewell, a last hurrah, that the auditive time travel is nothing more than the band saying ‘Here, this is us. Good bye.’. I won’t discuss these theories because it’s not my place nor I have the certainty of anything that will happen after this. What I know is that A Moon Shaped Pool is a fantastic instrospection into what I have no doubt is the greatest band of our generation. It is intimate, heartwarming and heartbreaking to listen to, and one of the few full blown art albums in the mainstream. For that alone, it deserves praise and recognition.
I, for one, hope that Radiohead sticks around for a long time. I want to take my kids (when I have them) to their shows and have a couple of beers singing their songs, just as my dad and I have done at McCartney shows. I am constantly in awe of their capacity as musicians and artists, and am grateful of every time I have got to see them live, and every moment a passage or lyric resonates in me and moves me to my core.
I hope I can have and share those feelings for a long time. Or as they would say, Don’t leave.
You can (and must) catch them on tour.
Listen to A Moon Shaped Pool on iTunes (will update this when it gets to Spotify).