PITCHFORK: So what is new on A Moon Shaped Pool, Radiohead’s first studio album since 2011’s The King of Limbs? Very little, which to me is what immediately makes it so great. For their ninth studio album, the concept of “newness” doesn’t resonate in the first several listens of this album in the same way that, say, Kid A immediately felt iconoclastic or Hail To The Thief stood in defiance of a political zeitgeist. Instead, Radiohead take a moment of reprise and gather little pieces from their entire career both in and out of the band. There are backwards vocals, a song originally written in 1994, a heavy focus on Jonny Greenwood’s orchestration, plenty of staticky digital percussion, some tape hiss, and the closest to a horns-up guitar solo Radiohead has ever come (on “Identikit”). A Moon Shaped Pool takes stock while the past, present, and future swells around Thom Yorke, whose view seems affixed to a lonely point that, this far into Radiohead, feels so familiar it’s almost comforting. MORE
NEW YORK TIMES: The results often hark back to the late 1960s; in a way, A Moon Shaped Pool is Radiohead’s psych-folk album. “The Numbers,” which Radiohead fans have previously known as “Silent Spring,” counsels, “We are of the earth/to her we do return,” and comes as close as Radiohead gets to a call to arms: “We’ll take back what is ours,” it insists. The production hints at Buffalo Springfield’s “Expecting to Fly,” with stately swells of guitar and gusts of strings.
“Desert Island Disk” recalls the jazz-tinged folk experiments of Pentangle and the electronic phantasms of early Tim Buckley as Mr. Yorke envisions “the wind rushing ’round my open heart, an open ravine.” Yet it’s the rare song on the album that offers a glimpse of hope — a feeling of being “totally alive, totally released.” “Glass Eyes” starts as the bleakest of ballads, with minor piano chords drifting into the fog as the singer arrives in a frightening unknown town and finds, perhaps, an escape. “A path trails off and heads down the mountain,” he sings. “I don’t know where it leads/I don’t really care.” MORE
ROLLING STONE: A pall hangs over the album like a highland fog, which mirrors the theme of heartbreak that runs through Pool. “Daydreaming,” which the band – in conjunction with video director P.T. Anderson – released to a handful of movie theaters in 35mm format, captures the album’s mood best. Haunting, pensive, unable to shake loose from its revery and doldrums – from the “broken hearts make it rain” refrain of “Identikit” (the most uptempo song on the album) to the “panic is coming on strong/so cold, from the inside out” that Yorke confesses to on the murky ballad “Glass Eyes” – the album conveys great sorrow and heartbreak. The latter comes at the midway point of the album, wherein Yorke’s minor-key piano moves with Jonny Greenwood’s scored strings to heart-rending effect. While Greenwood has flashed Penderecki and Ligeti moves in deploying orchestration to heighten anxious states (from “How to Disappear Completely” to his soundtrack work on There Will Be Blood), here the strings swaddle Yorke’s forlorn vocals with a mix of sadness and beauty. The downward spirals at the end of “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor, Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man, Thief” is one of the band’s most melancholic moments on record. MORE
NME: ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ is, essentially, a collection of songs that have previously existed in some form or other, but not had full, official studio releases. Thus, there’s only three entirely new tracks on the whole release – ‘Decks Dark’, ‘Glass Eyes’, ‘Tinker Tailer Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Thief’ (the latter is taken from a 1695 nursery rhyme, of course). Are Radiohead running out of ideas or just trying to please their fans? Either way, all three traverse the spectrum of fragility and resilience, and prove that no matter how few truly fresh songs present, the band still have plenty to offer us.The fact that they’ve deigned to include the likes of ‘True Love Waits’, ‘Identikit’ and ‘Present Tense’ has got some fans wondering if this is actually going to be the band’s last record. With the album being so geared towards their audience’s favourites, they’re seeing it as a sign that this could be the end. But with Radiohead, who knows? MORE
RADIOHEAD: Rejected Theme Song For SPECTRE
MASHABLE: Search your feelings, you know you’ve always wanted a different, even cooler Star Wars opening credit scene — and now we have one. New York-based School Of Visual Arts motion design student Kurt Rauffer took what is arguably the best of the Star Wars franchise, The Empire Strikes Back, and gave it a title sequence that is immediately evocative of the slick, design heavy James Bond opening title sequences we know and love. Does it work? Absolutely. In fact, you’ll probably need to watch it a few times to catch all the references the video makes to plot points in the film. But the coolest part is the beginning, when Rauffer takes us to the ice planet of Hoth and then plunges us inside Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber. All this and Rauffer has the brilliant idea of using the Radiohead track rejected from the latest Bond film Spectre. The result is stirring and delivers a completely fresh take on entering the Star Wars universe. MORE