The new Radiohead album, “A Moon Shaped Pool,” sweeps in with urgent anxious jarring violins and electronic bass and drums, penduluming its way around corners like a swarm of bats as Tom Yorke’s voice swoops overhead. As the track ends the violins are stabbing like a horror film soundtrack. “Burn the witch” indeed.
There is respite in the second track’s pensive piano, serene and softly thoughtful, truly like the “Daydream” of the title.
The third track, “Decks Dark,” builds the weight back up, tinkling guitar added to the piano, restraint and exquisite taste in the guitars and effect pedals, panned left and right, and not overbusy, harking back to the layering of “Ok Computer.”
“Desert Island Disk” opens with an acoustic riff like someone from a Nick Drake song, with a wave of synth washing over the guitar, shimmering and effervescent.
“Full Stop” comes on like Massive Attack’s “Inertia Creeps” and expands into a tight circle.
“Glass Eyes” takes us back to the pensive feel of “Daydream.”
In “Indentikit” Yorke’s voice echoes distant over a sparse guitar riff and snare-rim beat, and as the track evolves Yorke layers on a closer vocal track and the song winds out with a well-crafted guitar solo.
“The Numbers” is perhaps one of the stronger tracks on the album, sounding most like an integrated band number, yet even the urgency here is slow and easy, like “Radiohead by numbers.” It sounds a bit like Radiohead phoning in a great song.
“Present Tense” centers around a gentle but high anxiety acoustic guitar arpeggio.
“Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief” is a slow movement through synth and strings, almost a warped Verve song.
“True Love Waits” closes the album in the vein of “Daydream” and “Glass Eyes.”
After three listens I don’t have much more to say about it.