A new Radiohead song is about as big an event in music this side of the Beyoncé/Drake/Kanye realm, and while the band appeared at ease on their last two efforts, LP9 is led by the most frantic, urgent song by Thom Yorke and company since their Hail To The Thief days. “Burn The Witch” is one of the few post-2000 Radiohead tracks that is more in debt to strings and live instruments than synths and drum pads. The staccato strings are just as jarring and urgent as the band could hope, as they sound as vital and refreshed as they have in years.
Perhaps the best illustration of the band’s shift in focus is a comparison of the two official lead singles from their past two albums. The King of Limbs was preceded by dancing Thom Yorke in the “Lotus Flower” music video; it was as playful as we’ve ever seen Yorke on video. He finally looked comfortable. Not so on “Daydreaming,” the official lead single for Radiohead’s album, set for release this coming Sunday (May 8). In this new video, Thom Yorke is still in a wide open, empty space, but this time there’s no dancing. He’s in search of something, constantly on the move, always restless. He’s back to pushing himself out of his comfort zone, our comfort zone, and into cold mountain wilderness. The song is a stirring, slow motion avalanche that crawls where “Witch” bludgeons. These first two tracks show a renewed focus, a band with a lot more to say, finding new ways to say it. Nearly twenty-five years into their career as Radiohead, the only thing novel about the band is just how essential they continue to be.