Exclaim!'s Top 20 Pop & Rock Albums, Part Two Best of 2016



 
1. Radiohead
A Moon Shaped Pool
(XL)

In a year that saw some of music's greatest figures pass on, Radiohead took another step towards cementing their place in the pantheon of sonic brilliance with A Moon Shaped Pool. While not as immediate as OK Computer or as radical as Kid A, it will most certainly be recognized in time as their most ornate.
 
The use of a string section is nothing new in Radiohead's universe, but the arrangements of Jonny Greenwood, brought to life by the London Contemporary Orchestra, take first chair in these songs, to magnificent effect. The percussive playing of "Burn the Witch" gives way to the plaintive, meanderings "Glass Eyes," the commanding draws that close "The Numbers" and the ominous denouement of "Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief."
 
A strange sense of comfort can be found in Thom Yorke's lyrics of love, loss, regret and acceptance, especially in a year when, at times, existence proved exhausting. "This goes beyond me, beyond you," he gently sings on "Daydreaming," and whether the observation was penned as hopeful or helpless, a world in which Radiohead continue to explore and innovate on their own musical terms feels like one worth persevering for.
Calum Slingerland