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Radiohead onstage in California last year.
Radiohead onstage in California last year. John Shearer/Getty Images
When Radiohead announced earlier this week that it'd be unveiling a new album on Saturday, the timing seemed downright critic-friendly. Most of us would have a whole day to absorb the music before having to turn in a review. And then: head-fake.
Courtesy of the artist
A post published on Radiohead's website this morning.
This morning, fans and critics awoke to a surprise: The album was already out. It's called The King of Limbs, and it's currently available for download from the band's website. (A physical release will follow this spring.)
As today's little press stunt proves, you can't always trust your first impression where Radiohead is concerned. The British art-rock band makes dense, intricate records full of stunningly beautiful textures, all of which can take time to fully decipher.
On a first pass, The King of Limbs is no different. All the key Radiohead traits are here: The album begins with a fitful, hiccuping rhythm tapped out on long-obsolete drum machines. Then frontman Thom Yorke shows up, singing one of those floaty little melodies that sound forlorn and somehow epic at the same time.
This album is instantly recognizable as Radiohead, but the band is hardly standing still. Even after eight records, the quintet is still exploring, still profoundly curious about song structure and atmosphere. That alone is inspiring, and one reason the arrival of new music from Radiohead is always an event.