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Music / The King of Limbs

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"Open your mouth wide;
the universal sigh."

"There's an empty space inside my heart
Where the weeds take root
And now I'll set you free
I'll set you free."
"Lotus Flower"

The King of Limbs (often referred to as TKOL) is the eighth studio album by English Alternative Rock band Radiohead. It was self-released at first in February 2011 as a MP3/WAV-format download before being released through XL Recordings in physical CD and vinyl formats in March and eventually in a special "newspaper" edition in May.

The album is both Radiohead's shortest album (8 tracks over about 40 minutes) and one of their most experimental, consisting of a rhythmically complex, groove-based sound that melds everything from their hybrid of rock and electronica to dubstep, funk, and other genres to make something that really can't be neatly fit into a single genre.

No singles were released from the album, save for a promo-only release of "Lotus Flower", which also received a music video featuring frontman Thom Yorke performing a variety of eccentric dances unaccompanied.

Between July and October 2011, seven TKOL remix singles were released, and in September, a full TKOL Remix Album called TKOL RMX 1234567 was released. From November 2011 to January 2012, two more remix singles were released.


  1. "Bloom" (5:15)
  2. "Morning Mr Magpie" (4:41)
  3. "Little by Little" (4:27)
  4. "Feral" (3:13)
  5. "Lotus Flower" (5:01)
  6. "Codex" (4:47)
  7. "Give Up the Ghost" (4:50)
  8. "Separator" (5:20)

You got some nerve troping here:

  • Alternative Dance: While the band had lightly dabbled in the genre on occasion since Kid A, this album brings the band into it full-force with its blend of danceable beats and heavy electronic experimentation.
  • Concept Album: Not explicitly this trope, but has been interpreted as one alongside the rest of Radiohead's albums. The album is named after an ancient tree near Oxford, and the artwork and many of the song lyrics and titles ("Bloom", "Morning Mr Magpie", "Lotus Flower") contain a lot of pastoral imagery.
  • Dark Reprise: "Bloom (Mark Pritchard RMX)" for "Bloom". and "Separator (Anstam RMX Part II)" for "Separator (Anstam RMX)."
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The "Lotus Flower" video.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: While the packing format is Radiohead's most minimalist, being a nearly paper-thin cardboard folder, the designs are as elaborate as expected from the band, being a series of detailed arboreal illustrations themed around the album's constant use of floral imagery.
  • Echoing Acoustics:
    • This album has its instrumentation and Thom's vocals given an echo for a more conjunctive atmosphere.
    • However, there's a different sort used in "Separator", where Thom's vocal track is duplicated and the two tracks play with a slight delay between both.
  • Fading into the Next Song: A sample of bird sounds allows "Codex" to transition into "Give Up the Ghost".
  • Flower Motifs: Imagery and metaphors related to flowers and trees recur throughout the album's lyrics and packaging; even the album name comes from a tree near Oxford.
  • Genre Roulette: No kidding. No song on this album even remotely sounds like the next.
  • Ghibli Hills: The peaceful "Codex" sounds like this trope. See also the lyrics.
  • Gratuitous Panning:
    • "Give Up the Ghost" has Thom voices singing "Don't haunt me" panned towards the left throughout the song, and there's a wall of distorted Thoms singing "In your arms" panned to the lower right.
    • "Separator" has random loops of Thom's voice fading in and out panned into the channels.
  • Incredibly Long Note: In "Bloom", Thom holds the final syllables of lines for really long times.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics:
    • "Feral". The actual lyrics are "You are not mine / And I am not yours / It's all fine / Please don't judge me." How they got from that to the smeared vocals of the album version is anybody's guess. In fact, the only reason people know what the lyrics are is by a mixture of translating the Japanese release's liner notes, reading Thom's lips in live performances, and examining the song's official sheet music (the latter of which helped pinpoint where each word is supposed to be).
  • Lonely Piano Piece: "Codex", although there is a backing brass section later on.
  • Longest Song Goes Last: "Separator", the closing track, just barely beats out "Bloom", the opener, by five seconds for the position of the album's longest piece.
  • New Sound Album: This album sees the band focus more heavily on electronic experimentation while simultaneously incorporating more organic instrumentation and danceable rhythms. Given that Radiohead moved away from this sound on their next album, The King of Limbs could also qualify as an Out-of-Genre Experience.
  • Sampling: "Codex" and "Give Up the Ghost" feature sampled bird noises, which serve to transition from the former to the latter.
  • Subliminal Seduction: "Codex" begins with a single note by Thom covered with reverb and played in reverse, so the reverb is heard first as it builds up before the snippet of Thom's voice comes in.
  • Waxing Lyrical: To promote TKOL's retail release, Stanley Donwood and Thom went out and distributed copies of a newspaper called The Universal Sigh, a lyric taken from the album's intro track "Bloom".

If you think this is over, then you're wrong..note