A Moon Shaped Pool is the ninth studio album by Radiohead, released digitally through the band's website on May 8, 2016, with a physical CD and LP release issued a month later and a special limited edition boxset to follow in September.
A largely mellow and dreamy affair, the record combines a subtle blend of rock, electronica, and orchestral music, with prominent strings arranged by band member Jonny Greenwood.
It contains the definitive versions of several unreleased songs that have been in the works for many years: "Burn the Witch" (a legendary song that had gone unreleased and teased since the recording sessions of their early-2000s albums), "True Love Waits" (a famous song that was first played in 1995 and then released on I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings in 2001), "Present Tense" (first played solo by Thom Yorke in 2008), "Identikit" (first played in 2012 on the TKOL tour), and "Ful Stop" (also played on the TKOL tour).
Following the mixed response to their previous effort (the New Sound Album The King of Limbs), the slightly more conventional style of A Moon Shaped Pool was greeted with open arms and dubbed a return to form by fans and critics, with some even considering it to be the true follow-up to In Rainbows (which also boasted similarly lush production and reliant heavily on strings).
- "Burn the Witch" (3:40)
- "Daydreaming" (6:24)
- "Decks Dark" (4:41)
- "Desert Island Disk" (3:44)
- "Ful Stop" (6:07)
- "Glass Eyes" (2:52)
- "Identikit" (4:26)
- "The Numbers" (5:45)
- "Present Tense" (5:06)
- "Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief" (5:03)
- "True Love Waits" (4:43)
Exclusive bonus tracks for the Special Edition
- "Ill Wind" (4:16)
- "Spectre" (3:20)
A Trope Shaped Pool:
- Album Title Drop: "A Moon Shaped Pool" can be heard in the backing vocals for "Identikit."
- Animated Music Video: The "Burn the Witch" video is animated via claymation a la Camberwick Green.
- Bittersweet Ending: The album closes with longtime fan-favorite "True Love Waits" note . This review from Rolling Stone notes:One can only guess at how this love song of gentleness and intimacy reads two decades later, but the effect is like stumbling upon an old love letter years after a relationship has grown cold. Where there was once a hint of redemption in its devastating refrain, "Just don't leave" now sounds like the longest (and saddest) goodbye.
- Bizarrchitecture: The "Daydreaming" video, which has Thom walking through doors that lead him to different locations entirely that are uncharacteristic of the doors that led him there. Examples include him leaving a dark hallway and entering a forest, and him going out of another dark corridor and onto a beach.
- Deliberately Monochrome: The album's cover is a gray-scale image. It's subverted by the rest of the packaging (especially the special edition boxset), which contains explosions of colour that put even the artwork for In Rainbows and The King of Limbs to shame.
- Epic Rocking: "Daydreaming" (6:24) and "Ful Stop" (6:07).
- Fading into the Next Song: "Decks Dark" directly transitions into "Desert Island Disk", and "Tinker Tailor..." just barely fades into "True Love Waits."
- Grief Song: "True Love Waits" has overtones of grieving as it's presented on A Moon Shaped Pool, though in previous live performances it came across as a relatively straightforward love song.
- Indecipherable Lyrics: The ending of "Daydreaming", which has distorted, backmasked voices chanting something unintelligible. Fans have reportedly confirmed that Thom is sing-muttering "half of my life."
- Last Note Nightmare:
- The beautiful ballad "Daydreaming" ends with sinister, distorted, backmasked voices chanting something.
- "Burn The Witch" ends with the pleasant string instruments slowly getting louder, faster, and more out of tune, eventually turning into a cacophony before suddenly dropping.
- Lonely Piano Piece: "Daydreaming" is one paired with a string section.
- Long Title: "Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief". Fans refer to it simply as "Tinker Tailor".
- Loudness War: The worst example among Radiohead's full-length albums to date, coming out to DR5 overall. The mastering of "The Numbers" has attracted particular complaint for the extremely audible clipping distortion that can be found throughout the song, though most of the songs clip at some point.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Despite the aforementioned loudness war, the album is mostly a 1. Radiohead's softest album to date.
- Mood Whiplash:
- The upbeat, yet urgent opening track, "Burn the Witch", is followed immediately by the slower, softer "Daydreaming".
- The ultra-smooth "Desert Island Disk" is followed by the dark and panicky "Ful Stop", which is then followed by the much slower and more melancholy "Glass Eyes".
- New Sound Album: Like basically all their previous albums (with the possible exception of Amnesiac, recorded during the same sessions as the preceding album, Kid A). This time around they've emphasised orchestral elements that very seldom came to the forefront of their preceding material (though some earlier songs, such as "Dollars & Cents", had string arrangements).
- The Problem with Pen Island: Due to the lack of a hyphen in the title, it either refers to a pool shaped like a moon, or someone named Pool shaped by a moon.
- "Psycho" Strings: "Burn The Witch" ends with a fine example of these.
- Rearrange the Song: "True Love Waits," formerly an acoustic song only played live, was rearranged for piano on A Moon Shaped Pool.
- Shout-Out: The ending of the video for "Burn the Witch" is a big, long homage to The Wicker Man (1973). It's also animated in the style of Camberwick Green.
- Subliminal Seduction:
- "Daydreaming" has a reversed and slowed down sample of Thom's voice at the end of the track, to Lynchian effect.
- "The Numbers" ends with a reversed recording of people shaking shakers and laughing underneath the concluding notes.
- Uncommon Time: "Desert Island Disk" is in 7/4.
- Witch Hunt: "Burn the Witch".