A Moon Shaped Pool (XL)

Phases & Stages

A Moon Shaped Pool feels like the end of something. One of the UK quintet's greatest triumphs, their ninth studio full-length mirrors David Bowie's swan song Blackstar as a jazz-fusion production, utilizing electronics, strings, and Thom Yorke's soaring vocals to shed any remaining Neanderthal rock. Inward and reflective, the LP feels like the singer's solo project, other band members, especially multi-instrumentalist Jonny Greenwood, helping their leader process his changing emotions. Lead-off track "Burn the Witch" turns up societal fear-mongering in a stringed freak-out, while ambient piano ballad "Daydreaming" submits to modern chaos: "Dreamers, they never learn/ Beyond the point of no return." Atypically, "Full Stop" rushes forward in a Krautrock rage, a guilt-infested wave of alienation that peaks in Yorke's self-loathing ("You really messed up everything"). Otherwise, gone are any remnants of yesteryear's "rock music" ideology, thrusting Radiohead into a mature state of potentially their best work still to come. (Radiohead headlines ACL Fest Sept. 30 and Oct. 7.)


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