We Live Tweeted our First Listen of Radiohead’s ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’


After Radiohead taught us “how to disappear completely” from the Internet last week, excitement was in the air. Super fans were piecing together the clues while the band remained as enigmatic and tight-lipped as ever about a potential impending release. It was the circus of secrecy that Radiohead fans have all become accustomed to (and Beyoncé fans are learning about now) in the lead up to a new release.

Needless to say when the album dropped I couldn’t wait to race home, draw the curtains and get intimate with it. Here is a breakdown of the most memorable moments from the first listen of a Radiohead fan.

Like all Radiohead fans, the wait for the 24 bit WAV file to download is painful.

And then the wait is finally over!

1. Burn The Witch

The first previously released track has a different sound now as I realise it’s the opening track. I hear it in a different way. I’m restless with anticipation to hear Thom’s voice release through the headphones.

All the time Jonny Greenwood has spent arranging film scores really comes through in the string arrangements throughout the album, particularly in the col legno style of playing on this track.

One of my favourite Radiohead techniques is the cacophony climax towards the end of the song and here, they deliver on track one.

2. Daydreaming

It’s always difficult when listening to a new Radiohead album not to compare it to the predecessors. Once the melody unfurls I’m reminded of the In Rainbows closer ‘Videotape.’

Then the classic Jonny Greenwood vocal effect manipulations and harmonic complexities develop it into so much more – something even greater than the classic Radiohead piano ballad.

I’d also like to see if anyone could hear the King of Limbs ‘Bloom’ sounds toward the end of this track. Just me?

3. Decks Dark

By far the stand out moment of this track are the tight bass lines weaving between the back and front of the mix.

After a very keyboard heavy beginning the introduction of guitars were like a cool breath of fresh air.

4. Desert Island Disk

At this point I’m going to posit my own tin-foil fan theory (a key responsibility of any Radiohead fan). This song reminds me so much of Nick Drake that the ‘Desert island Disk’ title might reference the Nick Drake album ‘Pink Moon’ as a desert island disk favourite for the band. I might be wrong.

5. Ful Stop

Despite the track listing being in alphabetical order (mind thoroughly blown!), the album flows beautifully in a style very similar to Kid A. The placement of this track is a prime example of this. The transition from acoustic ballad in ‘Desert Island Disk’ to a dark, psych riff in ‘Ful Stop’ is inspired.

At a certain point I could hear a reference to a previous album.

6. Glass Eyes

The opening line of “Hey, it’s me. I Just got off the train,” sets the tone for what is the most heart-wrenching song on this album. The Jonny Greenwood string arrangements are the crux of this emotional resonance.

7. Identikit

I’ll be the first to admit that despite their importance, Thom Yorke’s lyrics are not always the first thing that I hear on a Radiohead album. “Broken hearts make it rain” however immediately stood out, and might even be their best lyric to date. Once again the bass shines through as one of the stand out musical devices on the album, bringing some serious depth to the low-end of the mix.

8. The Numbers

If there’s one band that is capable of still putting an original spin on a blues inspired sound, it’s Radiohead. Having said that, ‘The Numbers’ did remind me of something else…

9. Present Tense

The chord structure of this track has that extended enigmatic and meandering resolution to it that Radiohead have become so good at since OK Computer.

10. Tinker Tailor Solider Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief

The slow momentum groove on this track is a beautiful wind down into the tail end of the album. Again I begin to hear something familiar…

11. True Love Waits

When I heard there was finally a studio version of this track, I couldn’t contain my excitement for what I was about to hear. To draw on this 20 year old song at this point in their career and turn it into something so ghostly had to mean something important. The lyrics “Don’t leave. Just don’t leave,” got me thinking about where Radiohead are heading after this.

A Moon Shaped Pool is an instant classic and one of their finest, most exquisitely constructed albums to date. But a test of all great Radiohead albums is their ability to change over multiple listens. These may have been my first and honest reactions, but I know that new aspects will reveal themselves over each subsequent listen.

About Nick Wagstaff

My music tastes are like Magellan having sex on an expedition. F*cking all over the map. Follow me on twitter @theseenicktour

View all posts by Nick Wagstaff

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