Radiohead is back from its disappearing act with new album A Moon Shaped Pool, the first since 2011's The King of Limbs, and critics couldn't wait to dive in after it appeared online Sunday afternoon. The long-anticipated ninth album was released on Apple Music and the band's website, the Independent notes, but while it can be streamed on Tidal, it has yet to appear on Spotify. People who want a physical copy of the album will have to wait until June 17. A roundup of reactions:
- This is a "haunting, chilling triumph," according to Andy Beta at Rolling Stone. The most thrilling surprise is that the band's "least rock-oriented album in the 21st century doubles as its most gorgeous and desolate album to date," he writes, praising the inclusion of "True Love Waits," a studio version of which finally arrives on a Radiohead record after appearing in live sets for 20 years.
- This album is "much sharper and more focused" than King of Limbs, writes Alexis Petridis at the Guardian. The "abundance of sonic intrigue is matched by the quantity of beautiful tunes," writes Petridis, who notes that most of the "really important" music of our era is happening in hip-hop and R&B, with Radiohead the only big rock band expected "to not just release albums but make grand artistic statements worth dissecting and poring over in the same way as the output of Kendrick Lamar or Beyonce."
- Jon Pareles at the New York Times praises the "patient perfectionism" on display. On this album, "grim tidings arrive amid gorgeous backdrops: gentle pianos and acoustic guitars reinforced by a string orchestra," he writes. "Multilayered tinklings and murmurings give the music a subliminally shimmering aura."
- This is a "welcome addition to the catalog of the most consistently excellent recording act since the Beatles," writes Jim Fusilli at the Wall Street Journal. He says on first listen, he wouldn't rank it among their finest works, though it may "blossom" after repeat listens. Still, it is "an assertive and ambitious album, full of beauty and kinetic energy"—and the band "once again communicates complex human experience through superb musicianship, boundless creativity, and unwillingness to settle for the ordinary."
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