Non-traditional releases are not a new concept for Radiohead. They put their last album, 2007’s In Rainbows out on the internet only ten days after announcing its release, and instructed downloaders to pay what they thought it was worth. They made an average of $2.26 USD, per download.
On Monday the 14th of February, Radiohead announced that their next album, The King Of Limbs, would be released that Saturday, available as either a £6 GBP download or a £30 GBP “newspaper album” that includes two 10″ vinyl discs, 1 CD and lots of artwork, the physical album to be released in May, with the digital download to tie you over.
They then tweeted a message in Japanese, which roughly translated read “Hachiko Square Shibuya, 59 minutes at 18 Friday”, fuelling speculation that the band would perform or broadcast a show in the Tokyo square.
The broadcast was pulled due to security concerns, but the digital album was released and emailed to those who had pre-ordered 24 hours in advance.
Since its release, music blogs have been speculating whether this is really it. At only 8 songs or 37 minutes, it does seem a little short. But some fansites have gone to the lengths of compiling lists of conspiracy theories as to why they expect more, some of the theories are plausible. For example, why does the newspaper album contain two vinyl discs when 8 songs could fit on to just one? And why are the orders from the site numbered TKOL1? Is there a TKOL2 to follow?
But my favourites are the theories that take a great stretch of imagination. The last song on the album is titled Separator, could this be the separator between discs 1 and 2? And the lyrics from Separator include the line ““If you think this is over, then you’re wrong.”
NME questioned whether these theories haven arisen because fans were disappointed with the album. Pitchfork gave the album a positive 7.9/10 review. They acknowledged that it was a divisive record, and that disappointed fans were ” struggling to make sense of the gap between the greatness of the thing they got and the genius of the thing they thought they might get.”
BBC posted a video online, where one fan comes to terms with the fact that he prefers the old stuff to the new stuff.
The King Of Limbs is named after a 1000-year-old tree in Savernake Forest, Wiltshire, near where they recorded In Rainbows.
It was an idea Liam Gallagher, always amusing in interviews, just couldn’t get his head around. He told The Quietus, “Them writing a song about a fucking tree? Give me a fucking break! A thousand year old tree?… You’d have thought he’d have written a song about a modern tree or one that was planted last week. You know what I mean?”
No Liam, not really.