MAGNET’s #14 Album Of 2016: Radiohead’s “A Moon Shaped Pool”

radiohead

Even after a five-year wait between albums, it’s weirdly easy to take Radiohead for granted. Maybe it’s a slight tempering of expectations following 2011’s worthy but rather prickly King Of Limbs; maybe it’s the inevitable byproduct of maintaining such absurdly high consistency and commitment to innovation even now, well into its third decade. As with In Rainbows, its closest cousin in the band’s discography, A Moon Shaped Pool suffered somewhat from the attention-grabbing circumstances of its release; a splashy event incongruous with a work of art of such tender nuance and intimacy. But months removed from the initial hoopla and so many rushed post-drop thinkpiece assessments, it’s clear that the album meets (or exceeds) any level of anticipation. At first, LP9 seems to offer, essentially, no surprises: merely the most Radiohead-ish Radiohead since Hail To The Thief. But there are deep currents beneath that lustrous surface. In its myriad enticing avenues for close-read interpretation and, especially, in its decisive, revelatory reworkings of long-unfinished material, there’s ample catnip for the diehards and the nostalgiacs.

—K. Ross Hoffman