The last few weeks have seen new releases by some of the biggest names in what is still called Indie music. Radiohead, REM, PJ Harvey, Elbow and er, Bright Eyes, have all got offerings for us. Some of them are bound to be a disappointment, no matter what the press tells us. After all, how can Elbow keep producing records of such quality, and especially now everyone’s looking at them? As for REM, well, I listened to “Automatic For The People” the other day and anyone who says they’ve made anything even a fifth as good since is a barefaced liar.
First up, Radiohead. Yes, I know PJ Harvey’s record was out weeks ago but I still can’t face listening to it (long story). I’ve criticised Radiohead’s
jazz electronica direction previously, largely with the complaint that they just aren’t very good at it. Would “The King Of Limbs” be their long-awaited return to the guitar rock that made their name? Of course you know the answer. The record’s been out for ages, you’ve heard it, read all the views. My take on it? They still aren’t making records that are particularly good. I’ve got no issue with bands being challenging – go and listen to last week’s tip The Psychic Paramount if you doubt me on this – but I just don’t find myself being drawn back to listening to Radiohead’s records.
Yes, I can fully agree how great it is that a Big Rock Band have truly, wholeheartedly, and successfully changed their sound to be more adventurous than their peers. It’s great that they still sell out properly big venues whilst playing tunes that aren’t exactly easy on the ear1. But you know, even after listening to The King Of Limbs a good number of times2, I still can’t say I’m particularly enjoying it. What’s missing are the hooks, the little catchy bits that stick their hooks into your craw and drag you back in for just one more listen. Doesn’t matter what instruments you do it on; Sam Amidon does it on an old acoustic, Russian Circles do it on looped guitars, Tortoise do it on f- knows what, but they all have something that claws at your soul until you have to give in. For me, Radiohead don’t.
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe a few more listens will get me slathering and gibbering for just one more listen. Maybe.
Anyway, for the next week or so I’m going to finally get round to listening to PJ Harvey, get stuck into Elbow, and listen to REM with a sense that a once-great band can still write the occasional great song, but they’ll never recreate their glory years. Cynical? Me?
1 Never stopped Genesis.
2 Ok, five.