It’s during third track, ‘Decks Dark’ that it hits you. This is a song, then you realise, these are proper songs, with structure, verses, choruses and clear instrumentation. By the time the guitar solo kicks in during ‘Identikit’ you’re believing Radiohead are really back.
Make no mistake, The Bends this is not. But what it also isn’t is 2011’s King of Limbs which, excepting a few interesting tracks was a rare mis-step. Since OK Computer Radiohead have pushed themselves, explored new musical avenues, and never once apologised for it. They are rewarded by maintaining a rabid fanbase who love everything they do with fervour. I count myself as one of those fans.
Where A Moon Shaped Pool hits the target is that it is once again a complete album experience. Seemingly gone are the full-on electronica which appears to have run it’s course. Backed with gorgeous string arrangements from Johnny Greenwood, this album is deep, woven soundscape experince. One which the mood, style and shape of goes beyond the release itself. From erasing themselves off the internet, to self-releasing the album on a Sunday night after a few teaser videos in the week preceding it. Atypical of the art-performance at which they excel.
Finally commited to tape (not likely in Radiohead’s studio) are long-standing live tracks and web forum rumour-mill favourites, ‘Identikit’, ‘Ful Stop’, ‘Present Tense’, and – 23 years in the recording – ‘ True Love Waits’. The latter finishes out the album in a heart-wrenching, airy float of orchestration and forlorn vocal.
This is the best thing Radiohead have done since In Rainbows, and it is only with repeated listens does it begin to reveal itself truly. Get listening.