A Moon Shaped Pool is the ninth and most recent studio album by Radiohead, released digitally through the band's website on May 8, 2016, with a physical CD and LP release issued through XL Recordings a month later and a special limited edition boxset following 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 studio 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 regular for live performances that was first played in 1995 and then included on the 2001 live album I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings), "Present Tense" (first played solo by Thom Yorke in 2008), "Identikit" (first played in 2012 on the The King of Limbs tour), and "Ful Stop" (also played on the TKOL tour).
A Moon Shaped Pool was supported by two singles: "Burn the Witch" and "Daydreaming".
- "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)
Note: CD releases are across a single disc.
Special Edition bonus CD
- "Ill Wind" (4:16)
- "Spectre" (3:20)
Broken hearts make it trope:
- Album Title Drop: "A Moon Shaped Pool" can be heard in the backing vocals for "Identikit."
A moon shaped poolDancing clothes won't let me inNow I know it's never gonna beOh, me
- Confirmed from a tweet by Thom Yorke as:
- 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.
- Burn the Witch!: Take a wild guess. That said, the song "Burn the Witch" examines this trope in a metaphorical light, subtly criticizing the state of constant paranoia and distrust that encapsulates 21st-century society (the song had been in the works for well over a decade, but remained very much relevant by the time of its eventual release).
- 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.
- Design Student's Orgasm: The album packaging revolves around elaborate and abstract patterns created by leaving canvases of paint splatters outside to be weathered by the elements. These were then photographed and edited with Photoshop to produce the final results.
- 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.
- Idiosyncratic Cover Art: Of a sort; in addition to featuring simple letters sans a "side" prefix, each side of the double-LP release is denoted by a different abstract painting splayed across the label, all in a similar style to the main album art. The double-LP copy included in the Special Edition release meanwhile simply uses stark white labels.
- Indecipherable Lyrics: The ending of "Daydreaming", which has distorted, backmasked voices chanting. While it was unintelligible upon release, 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.
- "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.
- 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.
- 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" and "Harry Patch (In Memory Of)", 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, with the strings that play throughout the song growing increasingly chaotic to the point of cacophony.
- Rearrange the Song: "True Love Waits," formerly an acoustic song only played live, was rearranged for piano on A Moon Shaped Pool; the studio version is far more somber and pleading.
- 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.
- "Desert Island Disk" takes its name from the BBC Radio interview series Desert Island Discs, in which various celebrities are asked to name eight recordings, a book, and a personal belonging that they'd like to have if they were stranded on a deserted island, and the context behind their choices (plus some other information about themselves in general). Of note is that former British Prime Minister David Cameron named "Fake Plastic Trees" as one of his tracks, and comedian David Mitchell chose "Creep".
- Subliminal Seduction:
- "Daydreaming" has a reversed and slowed down sample of Thom muttering "half of my life" at the end of the track, underscored by deep string hits, to Lynchian effect.
- "The Numbers" ends with a reversed recording of people shaking shakers and laughing underneath the concluding notes.
- Subverted Kids' Show: The music video for "Burn the Witch" is a Camberwick Green-style claymation short... that adapts the plot of The Wicker Man.
- Surreal Music Video: "Daydreaming", which features Thom Yorke wandering through a series of idiosyncratic rooms and hallways with no rhyme or reason, before ending up on a snowy mountain, crawling into a cave, and muttering the backmasked "half of my life" chant to himself by the light of a campfire inside. Of note is that the video was directed by Paul Thomas Anderson— no stranger to making highly abstract films— with whom Jonny Greenwood had collaborated multiple times in the past.
- Tyop on the Cover: Invoked with "Ful Stop".
- Uncommon Time: "Desert Island Disk" is in 7/4.
- Whole-Plot Reference: The "Burn the Witch" video is one to The Wicker Man.
- Witch Hunt: "Burn the Witch".