I was going to write a review of Radiohead’s stunning new album entitled A Moon Shaped Pool. But, after reading the review by Chris Gerard on PopMatters, I realized there was no possible way to say it any better. Here are my favorite parts of his review – please click on the link above to read the entire review.
“It would have been difficult to envision back in 1992 when a young British band from Oxfordshire named after an obscure Talking Heads song released their breakthrough single “Creep” and its accompanying album ‘Pablo Honey’ that Radiohead would someday become far and away the most important band of their generation. Sure, there were flashes of brilliance on that album, like the unhinged eruption of self-loathing in “Creep” or the slow-boiling tension of “Lurgee”, but Radiohead had every appearance of being one of those countless ‘90s alternative rock bands that would make a quick splash and then just as quickly disappear into the ether.
Fast-forward 23 years, and Radiohead remains the world’s preeminent rock band. There is nobody else in rock—with the possible exception of U2—that can generate such a massive frenzy of excitement and speculation with the prospect of a new release as Radiohead. Their second album, 1995’s critically hailed ‘The Bends,’ was an artistic progression of leaps and bounds over their debut. At that point it became abundantly clear that Radiohead was not an ordinary rock band. Their stature has only grown over the years, as they’ve compiled the most groundbreaking and utterly essential body of work in the modern era of rock: their masterpiece of isolation and disillusionment, 1997’s ‘OK Computer,’ the fearless experimentalism of ‘Kid A’ (2000), and four spectacular albums spanning a decade—’Amnesiac’ (2001), ‘Hail to the Thief’ (2003), ‘In Rainbows’ (2007) and the gorgeously esoteric ‘The King of Limbs’ (2011)—are all groundbreaking works that eschew the old familiar conventions of rock and ascend to new heights of creativity and innovation.
Never content to repeat themselves or fall into a conventional lane that defines what they are supposed to be, Radiohead is constantly pushing forward with new sounds and ideas that challenge the notion of rock and roll’s limits. Turns out there are none, at least in the hands of Radiohead.
Radiohead operates in an entirely different dimension than anybody else in music. They don’t bother with arbitrary boundaries or definitions about what rock and roll should be. They are this generation’s version of a whole host of bands that other eras enjoyed and marveled over, and whose music continues to make a lasting impact—Pink Floyd, for instance. For those of us too young to remember Animals being released, being able to go to the store and buy it, unwrap it, gently lower it to the platter, place the needle and play it for the first time, it is difficult to imagine the wonder. That is how people will feel decades from now about ‘A Moon Shaped Pool,’ among other Radiohead albums. When we’re all gone, or getting there, young people emerging from the friendly cocoon of whatever is popular at the time will slowly discover Radiohead’s discography, read about it in some music book about must-have classic albums, and discover a musical universes that will blow them away, just like millions before them.
We are fortunate to see and hear it unfold before us, now. For only the ninth time in history, we have the opportunity to explore a new Radiohead album, and it’s worth the long five year wait. ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ is gorgeously produced by the band’s usual collaborator, Nigel Godrich, and is as deep and thoroughly moving as one would expect from any Radiohead album. The long wait is over, folks. There are dark currents ahead so dive in with your mind open and don’t be afraid to release yourself to the sonic waves and evocative images, wherever they may end up carrying you.”