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Radiohead - 15 Step (IK edit)

   
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Radiohead. The greatest rock act of the nineties and beyond is undoubtedly Radiohead, whose enviable track record of seemingly effortless consistency throughout the years left one time genuine money running competitive Brit Rock peers Blur, Pulp and Oasis (Oasis at least) well and truly in the cold. They never did quite make it as the biggest band in the world however, an accolade that would have otherwise been most deserved of them; and the reason for this could possibly be their off-kilter electro-rock explorations that occasionally even employs abstract electroacoustic sensibilities into their sonic arsenal; not a combination that is exactly going to set uptight Americans alight, and that’s what you need to do to become the biggest band in the world. You need to conquer America. But who cares. Being the best in the world is what counts, not the biggest, and to be the best sometimes requires you to venture into areas that the ever fickle masses might balk at, and often at the expense of being the biggest; a simple rule that I wish your average hit hungry rock and roller would absorb. ‘15 Step’, one of Radiohead’s finest compositions to date, is exceptional to their output in that it is dancefloor, though not obviously so. It begins, as the title suggests, in yet another of drummer Philip Selway’s unusual time signatures that isn’t exactly the easiest to groove to but which makes perfect sense once the song erupts two minutes and 40 seconds in; and what an eruption it is too; a climax that is so damn good it simply had to be extended and the one and only criticism one could really say about this otherwise seminal piece of music. Radiohead’s latest offering however, ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ isn’t, upon repeated inspection, up to the standard one expects of a band of their calibre. It is of course supremely competent, and is, as always, lavishly produced but the drop in songwriting quality here suggests that they are going through the motions with this one, capitulated perhaps by an at long last bereavement of ideas. And as what usually always happens to bands in their old age, it is somewhat overproduced and lacks the immediacy of their earlier recordings, as Thom Yorke’s tendency to incline to melancholy lapses somewhat Morrisseyesque into what can only be described as grumbling. Grumbling isn’t allowed in music. But I will give this album a chance. Sometimes musicians can be one step ahead of the critics.

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