surprised its fans in February of last year by releasing its eighth album, The King of Limbs
(XL/TBD), without warning. The album's sound didn't deliver the same shock, though—at least at first listen, it seemed to depart from the band's long-standing pattern of reinventing itself with every major release. But now that the record has been out 16 months, I've learned to appreciate its charms. It's richly layered, if not exactly catchy—the dark piano ballad "Codex
" is one of the few songs that sounds like the product of a pop band. Ever morphing tones, melody fragments, and humid polyrhythms unspool in intricate and occasionally impenetrable patterns, and the band manipulates or edits many of the elements electronically to create a bricolage of fractures, rips, and knots. Much of the record owes a heavy debt to the rhythms of dubstep, but the band's hallmarks—Thom Yorke's plaintive melodies, minor-key harmonies—remain firmly in place. And Radiohead continue to distinguish themselves from other artists heavily invested in programmed music by routinely working over their album material onstage, using it as raw material to tweak and develop. —Peter Margasak Caribou opens.