Music

Album reviews: Radiohead's A Moon Shaped Pool is a tour de force

Radiohead's A moon Shaped Pool has just been released, a tour de force album, dropped without fanfare

Radiohead

A Moon Shaped Pool

WE SHOULD have seen it coming. Bereft of any promotion, the world's most enigmatic but popular band unleashes some promising yet contradictory tunes – the orchestral, percussive Burn The Witch and the ambient wonder of Daydreaming – within the space of a few days.

So, of course, the obligatory tour de force album would drop, In Rainbows style, because who cares about hype?

A Moon Shaped Pool is an organic evolution of the group's trademark electronic sound, as if Kid A grew up and wants to show the world some of the cool tricks it learned along the way, such as Present Tense's Latin-flavoured acoustic guitar, while the gloomy, but powerful Ful Stop is a reminder the boys still have a knack for a solid alt rock rhythm.

Fittingly, it's the closer, True Love Waits, that will stick in your memory. As an infamous "lost" Radiohead track knocking about for more than 20 years, it's the one, above any, fans have been clamouring for, and the finished product could possibly go down as the band's greatest achievement.

It's gorgeous in its minimal, yet haunting piano-led splendour. It demonstrates the band's painstaking strive for perfection when it comes to their art. True love waits indeed.

FOUR STARS

Steven Cookson

Meghan Trainor

Thank You

IT'S hard to imagine that US-born Trainor only released her debut album, Title, last year because she's already had such an impact on the charts with hits such as All About That Bass, Lips Are Movin and Dear Future Husband.

Thank You, her second album, sees a change in direction for the Nantucket-born 22-year-old, with more dance elements and heavier beats, as she unleashes her inner diva. The 12 songs, all written by Trainor, remain as catchy as ever – lead single NO about female independence, Watch Me Do and Me Too are contemporary slices of upbeat pop, while you won't be able to listen to I Love Me and Dance Like Yo Daddy without moving.

The slower tunes work well too, such as the emotionally raw Kindly Calm Me Down and Just A Friend To You with its ukulele backing.

FOUR STARS

Shereen Low

James Blake

The Colour in Anything

ANOTHER week, another artist releasing a surprise album – this time, London producer James Blake, fresh from working with Beyonce on Lemonade (and don't fret, you can get it on Spotify, thank goodness).

For his third record, pared back electronic and Mercury Music Prize winning marvel that he is, Blake has taken inspiration from, and collaborated with, both Frank Ocean and Bon Iver. I Need A Forest Fire featuring Bon Iver is pure beauty, distilled into a crackling sonic soundscape – an entire album by these two would be much appreciated.

The opening piano on Radio Silence is exquisite, the rolling thump of Timeless pulses in your chest, while the spare Love Me In Whatever Way is bleakly appealing. The Colour In Anything is utter brilliance.

FOUR STARS

Ella Walker

Adam Beattie

The Road Not Taken

ALTHOUGH there is no shortage of tousled guitar troubadours, Adam Beattie stands out as one of the rare few whose music has the depth to match the bohemian image. His latest collection, inspired by travels around Europe, features gentle, intricate songs that creep up on the listener with their lyrical storytelling and folky melodies.

Standout tracks The Man I've Become, There's No Postcard For This Town, and You Only Kill The One You Love are similar in spirit to Tom Waits at his most elegiac.

This is the fourth album by the Aberdeenshire-born songwriter, self-released and partially funded by online donations. His efforts have not been wasted: The Road Not Taken deserves wider attention.

THREE STARS

James Robinson

Corinne Bailey Rae

The Heart Speaks in a Whisper

IT'S difficult to say Corinne Bailey Rae's name without hearing her in your head singing: "Girl, put your records on" – instantly evoking the summer of 2006 when she released her first, self-titled album.

A decade on, Leeds-born Bailey Rae's third album, The Heart Speaks In A Whisper is not mindblowing, but a collection of well-formed songs you can let whir away in the background. The exception perhaps being opening track, The Skies Will Break, which soars and glitters, Bailey Rae's voice crisply cutting through electronic riffs – it's one for turning up.

The remainder blurs into sweetly romantic mush (Stop Where You Are), funky soul (Been To The Moon) and attempts at the anthemic (Caramel). It's a solid offering, but could do with shouting a bit more loudly.

THREE STARS

Ella Walker

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