Radiohead has returned, and they’re brandishing pitchforks and torches set ablaze.
The evolution of Radiohead will go down in history as being one of the most fascinating processes in alternative music history. Although Radiohead has always been a band drawn to the eerie and isolated, their transition from alternative grunge to atmospheric, haunting art rock now comes to a fascinating climax with their new single, “Burn The Witch.”
They’ve brilliantly set this up too, ominously teasing new music, sending out cryptic messages branded with the toothy grin of their bear logo, then deleting themselves from the internet (which seems to be one of the most frightening things someone can do these days), only to return with the premiere of both the new single and the fascinating, disquieting music video to accompany it. This is a unique opportunity for many to evaluate both a song release and the accompanying visuals, which seems to be a big draw to a lot of artists recently with Beyonce’s Lemonade HBO special and Aesop Rock’s Impossible Kid album set to an animated shot for shot remake of The Shining.
The pinpricks of uneasily plucked string instruments open up “Burn The Witch” while we’re introduced to the deceptively colorful, rounded, and friendly looking animated world of the video. The familiar and haunting howls of Thom Yorke float over electronic flourishes that weave in and out of the minor key strings section.
In the music video, an unsuspecting man visits a quaint little town full of rosy cheeked residents. The place seems like the perfect little neighborhood.
The smiling faces and the pastels of the music video’s world slowly become more and more untrustworthy as the little leader of the town gives the man a tour of the town, nonchalantly introducing things like sacrificial dances and rotting meat being sold in the market as if they were everyday occurrences. The world devolves into The Wicker Man filtered through the sensibilities of Davey and Goliath which is the bow on this delightfully creepy package.
If this is a sign of what we should expect to come next, certainly we shouldn’t shoot the messenger. This is the best news he’s delivered in years.