It holds us like a phantom. The touch is like a breeze.
It shines its understanding. See the moon smiling.
5. 8. 16
I was sitting on the couch in my fiancée’s living room exhausted. Not as much from the drive home from school, but from the past month of the end of school: tennis, finals, finishing my internship, applying for work now that I am an “adult”, cleaning my dorm room as well as section as an RA, graduating, saying my goodbyes. It felt like the stress would never end even though the time passed so quickly. There were so many days I was wondering what I was working hard for. What was the point. In hindsight, I realized that the goal was not the end result but the growth from the process.
There on the couch, I was getting ready to write my review for the week. I had known which album I was going to review for the past few weeks. It had already released that Friday and I have the chance to listen to it about five times before writing the review. It was nice having that stability. The record was smooth, clean, and simple. It was in not phenomenal, yet I also believe it was well executed and quite a solid release. Then I did one last check to see if there was any albums I had overlooked. I knew there wasn’t going to be anything better than the record I already found. But of course, unexpected, there it was. Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool was about to be released in 10 minutes. I have heard so much about Radiohead but have never taken the time to get into them. It is more difficult for me to go back and listen to bands I have missed out than it is to listen to new releases. So this was my chance—my chance to like Radiohead, considered one of the best bands of all time.
Radiohead comes out of the gate with some pace. The first track Burn the Witch is the most upbeat and aggressive track on the record. It has this intense cinematic kind of feel in the chorus. Strings can be found everywhere, not only in this song but as well as throughout the album. The second song, Daydreaming is a moving piece with a piano base layered eventually with some strings to create this eerie yet focused sound. I was so excited two tracks in. I loved both of them. This was going to be it. This album was going to be a lock for my Top 10 Albums of the Year. Then as the record continued, I became less interested. There was a lack of the dynamic draw which caught my attention for the first two songs. Everything moved at such a slow pace. The record was, for a lack of a better word, boring. I was upset. This was going to be the record that I enjoyed. I was going to go back and love all of Radiohead’s previous releases, and I would become a well-cultured music listener, like all the other elite’s who are head-over-heels for Radiohead. But that didn’t happen. I liked the record, but I didn’t love it.
This left me with three options. I could lie to myself and pretend I love it. This has never been my way of dealing with music, but I can see the temptation when it comes to wanting to fit in with those who music opinions you respect. The second is I could reject the record. In one sense, this would be a genuine response to how I feel; however, it also feels like the cowards way out as well. People respect and love Radiohead because of their brilliance. Just because I do not see that in this record neither means I am blind nor the critics are wrong. With records like this one, I think the third and final option is the most practical approach moving forward. Be honest, but also be willing to let the record sink in. Either there is nothing here for me to love, or I just have yet to uncover it. There have been so many records I have listened to tens-of-times which took that one more listen for me to finally get it. That is a great moment when it all clicks in your head, and what you saw as boring or abrasive now becomes vibrant or comfortable.
To make a long story short, this record is not one of my favorites of the year so far although I am sure it is on so many other’s lists. And I’m ok with that. They aren’t wrong, nor am I; however, I don’t want to throw this record away after only a few listens when it may be as beautiful as the critics say it is. Regardless of whether or not I end up loving this record or not, I will find value in knowing I will grow as a music listener in the process of being stretched to listen to something which is not an immediate love. We are constantly being formed by what we listen to as music listeners. This is why I will always remind myself—just give it another chance.
For Fans Of: Music
Favorite Songs: Burn the Witch, Daydreaming, Present Tense, Decks Dark, Fulstop
Top 10 Potential: Yes
Album Cover: 7/10
Other Notable Releases (5. 06. 16)
Ry x – Dawn
Astronauts – End Codes
Aloha – Little Windows Cut Right Through
Whyte Horses – Pop or Not
Did an album come out this past Friday you liked? Do you like Radiohead/A Moon Shaped Pool? I’d love to hear your thoughts!