Who would’ve thought? The new Radiohead album, “King of Limbs,” released on February 18 as a digital download, is a singer-songwriter record.
Aside from the sultry lead single “Lotus Flower,” the strongest tracks are the slowest ones: “Codex,” which is mostly singer Thom Yorke and his piano, and “Give Up the Ghost,” which is Yorke and his guitar.
Throughout the British quintet’s now-eight album career, Yorke’s vocals have always been a deal-breaker for many. People who have admired the art rocker’s musicianship have not been able to get into the band more seriously because of York’s sometimes off-key singing.
The band became famous in 1992 with the inescapable complaint-rock hit, “Creep,” which, incidentally, was popular in Tel Aviv before anyplace else.
Thom’s voice may be the strongest instrument on the new album, which is filled with gorgeous ambience and glitchy percussion, but he doesn’t always sound great. His harsh singing in the chorus of “Little by Little” makes the song unlistenable - which is a shame as it has an inventive country-influenced guitar strum in it - and the bass-heavy “Feral,” an instrumental (thus, without vocals) is a song people can skip over once they’ve gone through the album a few times.
“Open your mouth wide, there’s a universe inside,” the opening lyric on the album, sets the stage for an album throughout which the voice is the most important instrument.