A full review of Radiohead’s just-released, ninth studio album will feature in the next issue of MOJO. In the meantime, reviewer Jim Irvin has taken a quick dip in the group’s A Moon Shaped Pool, and here are his initial feelings, track by track.
Burn The Witch
The staccato chords throbbing throughout eloquently convey its “low-flying panic attack”, foregrounding Jonny Greenwood’s remarkable strings, which feature heavily on six of the album’s 11 songs.
Another recurring sonic element is an emotive piano sound, first used here. “Dreamers, they never learn, beyond the point of no return,” sings Thom Yorke softly. You need to lean in; he’s quite low in the mix throughout.
One of Colin Greenwood’s melodic basslines anchors this track. Its lyric is pretty bleak, perhaps about depression: “a spaceship blocking out the sky”.
Desert Island Disk
This lovely track starts with a folky, Bert Jansch-like guitar figure and ends with Yorke’s repeated assertion that “Different types of love are possible.”
Locking into a krautrock pulse and a sound like passing freight trains. Halfway through, the track lifts off and a terrific, pealing guitar ostinato plays over and over.
A marriage of piano and strings again, for some reason reminding this listener of a ’60s black and white TV ghost story starring Michael Hordern.
One of several songs here to have had earlier live outings – restores the full band, and centres on a repeated line sung by solo Thom then a choir of Thoms.
Climaxing with a swooping string coda, The Numbers dissolves into one of the most affecting endings in Radiohead’s canon.
An album highlight! This is a lovely bossa nova in the afterlife: Yorke, walking into a veil of echo as the track morphs into a distended French movie theme, with more choral work over shuffling drums and some archaic string or organ sound.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief
Exploding with narcotic strings and stuttering signal delay, there is a Kid A feel to the A Moon Shaped Pool’s penultimate song.
True Love Waits
Twenty years later than expected, live and bootleg fan favourite True Love Waits makes its studio debut rendered as a piano duet. “True love lives,” Thom reminds us, “on lollipops and crisps.” Sweet.
Listen to A Moon Shaped Pool via Apple Music