‘True Love Waits’ Illuminates Radiohead’s Mysterious Creative Process

After a week of cryptic teases, Radiohead's A Moon Shaped Pool dropped on May 8.
After a week of cryptic teases, Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool dropped on May 8.

The last few weeks have been a bit nuts for surprise album releases from music’s biggest names: Beyonce’s Lemonade, Drakes’ Views, James Blake’s The Colour In Anything. And that’s not even counting sudden releases a few months ago from Rihanna and Kendrick Lamar and Kanye West. So yeah, it’s already been a busy winter and spring.

As if that wasn’t enough, Radiohead then dropped hints of a new something, first by sending cryptic mailers to anyone on their UK mailing list — hinting at the a song “Burn The Witch” and a data privacy-alluding tagline “We know where you live” — and then removing all traces of content from the band’s internet presence and social media. Considering fans knew Radiohead had been working on and off on new music, plus a looming tour this summer, clearly something was happening soon. And then, Radiohead dropped a few breadcrumbs in the form of video teasers on Instagram. And later, the first full song and music video for “Burn The Witch,”

A few days later, they dropped “Daydreaming,” which coupled with a breathtaking short film video by director Paul Thomas Anderson.

Then, the new album dropped on Sunday at 2 p.m. and people like me threw away the rest of the weekend to download and listen.

There’s much to discuss and unpack with A Moon Shaped Pool, but after a few days I’ve yet to wrap my head around what Radiohead is doing. I’m sure there’s more thoughts to come about the band and its frequently evolving sounds and shapeshifting ambitions and themes.

Over at NPR Music, the staff was practically all hands on deck, listening to the record at the same time, and each jotting down some loose first reactions to the music, the moods and more. It was a ton of fun to be able be part of the genre-diverse array of writers and critics and producers and editors from the site, all coming together to weigh in from their various areas of expertise. So go check that out.

My short contribution about “True Love Waits” is there as well. And below, I have a longer version fleshes out a little bit of what I’m getting at. It’s messy and unedited and likely rambling, but putting it here for posterity.

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