I would like to dedicate this review to a late friend and one of the most amazing artists I have ever met, Elgin Wells. As a multi-instrumentalist, teacher, composer and stunt pilot, he inspired others to follow every creative impulse and explore places no one else would dare to go. I will see you in the next life.
Radiohead’s ninth studio album transcends the very fabric of musical form to create something profoundly eternal, a journey into the psyche of a soul departing from all things worldly and into the abyss of enlightenment. “A Moon Shaped Pool” is deeply personal, the colossal surrender of a soul in the wake of tragedy.
After the album’s release, Yorke’s former partner Rachel Owen, whom he separated from after 23 years, died of cancer. Producer Nigel Godrich lost his father during the album’s recording.
The strategic release of “Burn the Witch,” a track that Radiohead has been working on since 2003, has a greater context today. It provides a critique on the sociopolitical controversies of travel bans and cultural misconceptions. This opening track features Jonny Greenwood’s string arrangement that whirls around the wisps of Yorke’s vocals.
The album functions in unison with the stages of sleep. “Daydreaming” drifts in and out over a minimalist piano riff that blossoms forward into an orchestral cavalcade of spectral beauty. “This goes beyond you,” Yorke sings in a vulnerable tone, “beyond me.”
Listening to “A Moon Shaped Pool” is like falling into a dream. By the time “True Love Waits” fades into a single note, you have been reborn.
There is much more to Radiohead than words can do justice. Its music has the ability to single out the most isolated of individuals and make them feel heard.