003. A Moon Shaped Pool, Two Months Later

Jordan Khajavipour
28 years old
Citizen Insane via Tumblr

Radiohead fan sinceAmnesiac

For Radiohead fans, the release of a new album is more than a set of new songs⎯it signifies the arrival of a new era. Two months have passed since the band
erased their web presence and tweeted perhaps the most lackadaisical album announcement in their decade-spanning history (Paul Thomas Anderson directed video aside). In just nine words, we learned to soon-to-be-titled A Moon Shaped Pool would be released to the world. At the time, it was infuriating. The time leading up to May 1st was a testament to just how strong and alive the Radiohead community has continued to be since The King of Limbs, despite Thom Yorke’s recent assumption. After enduring months of cryptic clues, tour announcements, and fan theories, I witnessed a frenzy of speculation-fueled posts and reactions at an entirely new level of fandom, prompting every online Radiohead community into a constant limbo of both excitement and anxiety. Now that the initial excitement has settled, I’m able to reflect on what this journey has been like so far, and what is still to come.

Apart from their actual music, post-EMI Radiohead are in an unique position that allows them to experiment with the notion of music itself. When May 1st arrived, Radiohead did not disappoint us. There’s never been a time where Radiohead fans were just one hour away from a new LP release, and still completely left in the dark about what to expect in terms of art, sound, tracklist, or title. It’s baffling to think I was still calling it "LP9" the morning of May 8th. Shortly after my first listen of A Moon Shaped Pool, I was reminded why Radiohead became more than just a band over the last quarter century. For most Radiohead fans, seeing their name trending on social media elicits unparalleled feelings of joy and curiosity. A Moon Shaped Pool wasn’t just an opportunity to hear new music from artists I’ve admired and enjoyed for nearly two decades; a new album meant new opportunities to connect with like-minded people and experience something that feels like nothing else in this world: seeing the the band live.

Radiohead has an amazing ability to slow down time. Without realizing it, A Moon Shaped Pool's release ushered in a new era that has made the last two months seem like we’ve shifted into an entirely new direction in time. Like In Rainbows and The King of Limbs, the band’s release strategy materialized organically, seeming simultaneously familiar and unique. Watching Periscopes of the first shows in Amsterdam felt just as exciting as hearing AMSP for the first time. Now that the album has been officially released and well-received, I finally feel able to truly reflect on the journey we’ve embarked on as Radiohead fans. I attempted to write a review of the album several times, but, as some have pointed out, a new Radiohead album is not something that can be reviewed upon a few listens. In fact, Thom has even discussed one of the driving forces behind their post-EMI release strategy is to avoid the way critical reception alienates their music. Radiohead’s music demands more, and being able to access the music at the exact same moment that anyone else can, regardless of status or position, is really something quite special.

In a world saturated by social media posts and streaming information, Radiohead were able to sell-out a festival-headlining world tour for an album that was no more than speculation just two weeks before the first tour date. Unlike previous releases, AMSP seemed more meticulously planned. Beginning with their LLC name as the first clue to when we’ll be receiving new music, Radiohead has crafted this project in a way that really made me fall in love with them all over again. I realized this is why AMSP cannot be reviewed quite yet, for me and many fellow-fans. Unlike other artists, Radiohead’s music has an ineffable quality that centers itself with the listener’s life preceding its release. Every album becomes the soundtrack to one’s life over the months and years that follow. This is something I’ve spoken to nearly every Radiohead fan about.

In a few weeks, the band will begin their North American tour. As the cornerstone of Radiohead fandom, the band’s live shows encapsulates the profound effect their music offers to old and new fans across the world. As the journey through AMSP’s era continues, the creators of this blog will begin to capture the rare and unique experience of being a Radiohead fan alongside our documentary Where I End And You Begin.