Unsettle down everyone. You are invited, once more, to bathe in their uneasy art.
By Jim Irvin.
There’s an art to that moment of unveiling, the rush of hush before an explosion, that Radiohead relish. For A Moon Shaped Pool they formed a holding company called Dawn Chorus, releasing the creepy Trumpton-does-Wicker Man video for Burn The Witch on this year’s International Dawn Chorus Day, May 1, the date when The Wicker Man’s horror reaches its climax. Details like these are cute, but also strum a cultural chord, evoking some particularly deep-seated harmony as you experience the work for the first time. I was also struck by how the video for Burn The Witch messed with my head in a way it might not affect a younger generation or, for that matter, a non-white-middle-class-Briton.
The marketing and visualising are breathtaking. But how’s the music? Suggestions that this album “sounds like nothing you’ve ever heard” were far-fetched. This is undoubtedly the Radiohead we’ve come to expect: exquisitely expressed first-world anxiety, sung in a brink-of-coma voice, all safely within its discomfort zone. Though perhaps mellower than previous work, “This dread still covers us,” Thom Yorke notes on Decks Dark. If they were to properly confound expectation now it would be with instant hooks and feel-good dance anthems. Instead, we’re invited deeper into their crepuscular cave. All told, another luxurious wallow in art and agitation. Business as usual for Radiohead it may be, but it’s still profoundly beautiful business.