Music Review: 'A Moon Shaped Pool,' Radiohead

May 9, 2016
Originally published on May 15, 2016 7:43 pm
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Radiohead has created "A Moon Shaped Pool."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FUL STOP")

THOM YORKE: (Singing) All the good times, all the good times...

SHAPIRO: "A Moon Shaped Pool" is the band's first new album in five years. Radiohead surprised fans with the release yesterday. Reviewer Tom Moon says it's a new incarnation of the band's tense sound.

TOM MOON, BYLINE: By this point, nine records in, you'd think Radiohead would've exhausted its supply of existential dread - not even close.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DAYDREAMING")

YORKE: (Singing) Dreamers, they never learn. They never learn.

MOON: The eleven songs here find vocalist Thom Yorke again brooding over environmental catastrophe, love anguish, drones, rapidly vanishing notions of personal privacy. What's new are the textures that are constantly moving around behind him. Here's where this thoughtful piano ballad goes after a few minutes.

(SOUNDBITE OF RADIOHEAD SONG, "DAYDREAMING")

MOON: The album begins with an agitated string ensemble, a contrast to Yorke's fragile voice.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BURN THE WITCH")

YORKE: (Singing) This is a round up. This is a low-flying panic attack. Sing a song on the jukebox that goes burn the witch, burn...

MOON: Radiohead's last album, "King of Limbs," from 2011 at times felt experimental and diffuse. By comparison, everything on the new one is locked together, intentional. That's largely a credit to guitarist Jonny Greenwood. He surrounds Yorke with whatever sounds will lift the singer's default anxiety to the level of art.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PRESENT TENSE")

YORKE: (Singing) I won't get heavy. Don't get heavy. Keep it light, and keep it moving.

MOON: On the opening track, Thom Yorke uses the phrase, a low-flying panic attack. That's a good description of Radiohead itself right now. It can sound terrifyingly beautiful one minute and just plain terrifying the next. On the new album, this band continues to evolve its peculiar brand of psychodrama.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SAILOR RICH MAN POOR MAN BEGGAR MAN THIEF")

YORKE: (Singing) All the birds stay up in the trees. All the fish swim down too deep.

SHAPIRO: Tom Moon reviewed "A Moon Shaped Pool" by Radiohead.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SAILOR RICH MAN POOR MAN BEGGAR MAN THIEF")

YORKE: (Singing) And they pray. Honey, come to me before it's too late. The ones you light your fires to keep away is crawling out... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.