Following a series of cryptic events that involved Instagram teasers, mysterious leaflets and the abolishment of online presence, Radiohead have finally released a new song from their upcoming album. If you were to discount “Spectre”, “Burn The Witch” is the first track to be unveiled since the release of The King of Limbs back in 2011, and marks a notable change in sound that lies somewhere between Hail to the Thief and In Rainbows. Hardly surprising, given that the song has actually been worked on for over ten years. However, rarely has a Radiohead track sounded so sweet, so indulgent, only to have such sinister undertones presented alongside it.
Sprightly orchestral strings set an optimistic tone that is almost immediately shot down by disturbing croons of ‘burn the witch, we know where you live’. As we come to expect, Thom Yorke’s falsetto’s are as beautiful as they are haunting, but sit surprisingly low in the mix to keep the focus set on an orchestral arrangement that is presumably assembled by Jonny Greenwood. Although it’s likely the product of a drum machine, the percussion in “Burn the Witch” makes a comforting contrast to the the overly compact drums that made The King of Limbs seem somewhat lifeless during its weaker moments. To brand it a return to form doesn’t serve the song justice: whilst it contains traits of Radiohead that we have become familiar with for many years now, the overall package is unquestionably a new direction for the band.
Whilst it doesn’t reach the heights of “Paranoid Android”, “Street Spirit”, and numerous other classics scattered across their catalogue, “Burn the Witch” is a fine song; a satisfying introduction to a new Radiohead era that will naturally leave fans wanting more. Fortunately, there’s seemingly not long to wait.
Listen to “Burn the Witch” here.