By Amanda Wicks
Radiohead released their ninth studio album A Moon Shaped Pool yesterday (May 8). Featuring 11 tracks in alphabetical order, the album marks the first major new project from the band since 2011’s The King of Limbs. Given the mystery surrounding its release—ranging from Radiohead deleting much of their social media presence to the two surprise music videos they released nearly back to back—it will take some time for fans and listeners alike to digest A Moon Shaped Pool. In the meantime, here are five tracks worth your immediate attention.
5. “Decks Dark”
Beginning sparsely enough, “Decks Dark” eventually shifts into a brooding song that, in true Radiohead fashion, builds in intensity. It achieves that mark thanks to the addition of an eerie choir. What makes the song so striking, however, is the turn it takes. Pay attention to the 3:24 mark and the way the confluence of instruments playing the same riff builds into an entirely new direction.
4. “The Numbers”
Beginning more melodically than other tracks on the album, “The Numbers” has a soothing quality about it. That comes about thanks, in part, to the piano and acoustic guitar at the forefront, which build into a bass line harkening back to the winding melodic numbers from In Rainbows. Yorke grows prosaic on the song. “The future lives inside us/ It’s not somewhere else,” he sings, repeating the last line over and over.
Released two days before Radiohead dropped A Moon Shaped Pool, “Daydreaming” hinted at the album to come with its stark apocalyptic feel. The Paul Thomas Anderson directed video aside, the song feels disorienting in a way, as if the singer were lost and longing for a pathway. When it shifts gears in the last minute with an orchestral flurry, “Daydreaming” becomes an otherworldly, beastly thing.
2. “Ful Stop”
“You really messed up everything,” Yorke sings on the emotionally charged “Ful Stop.” The accusatory song begins with a throbbing, drone-like rhythm that reflects the shattered relationship at its heart. At the 3-minute mark, the song becomes a more melodic—rather than purely rhythmic—journey with ethereal guitar riffs that harmonically twist around each other to reach a tempestuous crescendo before quietly resolving.
1. “True Love Waits”
Known for their complex arrangements and for integrating myriad instruments as well as sounds into their songwriting, Radiohead proves in “True Love Waits” why they remain such a powerful and lauded presence. From the simple piano melody that begins the song to Yorke’s mournful pleading, “Don’t leave,” the song may not be quite as elaborate as the others on the album, but it showcases a beautiful, stunning end to this curious project.