Radiohead

{grate 3}

It starts where disc one left off, as a chorus of Thom
Yorkes chant over a looping piano flurry in short segway “MK 1.” More so than
In Rainbows, the bonus disc presents itself as an odds-and-ends collection; “Up
on the Ladder” has been in rotation since the Kid A days, five tracks serve as
b-sides from the group’s latest sessions and the other two (“MK 1” and “2”) act
as smooth, eerie transitions.

“Down is the New Up” makes for Radiohead’s most overt
politics-bashing track yet, satirizing flip-floppers and double-speak. Yorke
does a pretty believable Prince impression toward its end, taking the falsetto
to new heights. The chord progression and guitar lick in “Go Slowly” apes the
old single “There There,” only drumless and breathy in the vein of Kid A’s “Motion
Picture Soundtrack;” it’s not new territory for the Brits, rather evidence that
their minor-key schemes haven’t failed them yet.

Sparse piano/voice combo “Last Flowers” unfolds like a love
ballad written for a dysfunctional couple. It’s wispy, tender and evokes pity,
but a sense of deja vu lingers around the proceedings.

And the uneventful “Up On the Ladder” throbs like a lazy
drunk without a future, happy that he never got involved in corporate dealings
(see angsty bathroom lyrics: “Up on the ladder/ you’re all the fucking same”).
But the strongest track, “Bangers + Mash,” sees Radiohead attempt a
rhythm-heavy funk jam built on abrasive guitar loops. The genesis of this song,
from no-nonsense rock anthem to jittery dance mash-up, proves their creativity
hasn’t faded with age.

As the few survivors leave their bomb shelters in a
post-apocalyptic, post-Radiohead world, “4 Minute Warning” calmly begins its
minimal tambourine procession. The bar-crooners’ “oohs” grow in volume,
providing a sense of closure to a creative force ready for another
well-deserved rest.

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