Radiohead’s King of Limbs gets mixed reviews

Feb 18, 2011
Jonathan Harwood

Band releases its eighth album a day early and sparks a furore on Twitter

The launch of Radiohead's new album, The King of Limbs, has not gone according to plan. The online release – brought forward by 24 hours to this morning – was greeted with warm reviews, but nothing ecstatic. The band were forced to cancel an event in Tokyo over safety fears. And, to top it all, they’ve had their latest video ridiculed.
The launch was clearly an event of major significance to Twitter aficionados, the reaction even greater than that for Lady Gaga's new single last week. At one point, four of the top six trending topics on Twitter in the UK - and three of the top six worldwide - were to do with the release.
The event that had to be scrapped was due to take place in Tokyo’s Hachiko Square. Earlier in the week, the band had put out a cryptic message on Twitter that simply read: "Hachiko Square Shibuya, 59 minutes 18 Friday." Many fans took that to mean that there would be a surprise performance by the band at 6.59 pm.

But the message soon went viral and on Friday a band spokeswoman announced: "Nothing is happening now. It's been cancelled due to the massive amounts of re-tweeting, for public safety reasons."
That didn't stop large crowds gathering in central Tokyo and gazing hopefully at the giant advertising screens in the square.
At around the same time Radiohead posted a link to a video for a new song, taken from the album, called Lotus Flower. It featured singer Thom Yorke dancing maniacally in a bowler hat for the five minutes that the song lasts. Some wags compared Yorke's dancing to that of Napoleon Dynamite in a famous scene from the film of the same name. Even crueller were comparisons with Beyonce's video for Single Ladies, also filmed in black and white.
When the full, eight-track album, which only lasts 37 minutes, was finally made available for download from the Radiohead website, there was rejoicing from the die-hard fans but an element of disappointment, too.

On Twitter many fans said they were withholding judgment until they had the chance to listen to the album several times - suggesting that they weren't blown away initially. One tweeter Ken Shane commented: "Darker than In Rainbows. More like Kid A. If you're waiting for guitar rock, forget it."
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING ABOUT THE KING OF LIMBsTim Jonze, Guardian: "Whereas their business model is unusual, there's a nagging feeling that The King of Limbs is more like business as usual."
Neil McCormick, Telegraph [reviewing Lotus Flower]: "Imagine the Floyd remixed by Burial for a post clubbing chill out in an urban underground car park."
Luke Lewis, NME: "A record to admire more than truly love. That said, we've only lived with it for a couple of hours. The image of an unfolding lotus flower is probably a good symbol for the album itself: no doubt it will unfurl more of its secrets over time."
Jason Gregory, Gigwise: "With all the ingenious ways the band are now choosing to release music, it's easy to forget just how inventive, avant-garde and, at the end of the day, emotionally touching the songs they make are."
John Aizlewood, Evening Standard: "The King Of Limbs combines elegant pain, weary despair, uncomfortable dislocation and an unmistakeable seam of comfort. Business as usual for Radiohead, then."

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