Twisted Words of Free

Radiohead have made some recent revelations: a "leak" of their new track (and subsequent official free release on their website), and the possibility they might not do "albums" anymore.

The intentional distribution of the "These Are My Twisted Words" isn't a big surprise. Why not follow up the pay-what-you-want concept of In Rainbows by trying out free? The hype of the "leak" made little difference - a bolder initial statement would have had more impact than a transparent gimmick. The band have set the bar for innovative distribution - we now expect them to continue the trend.

Turning their back on the album format is more shocking. Radiohead have always been an album band - that is to say, the body of a period of work aligns comfortably into a collection. The single isn't really their format. Thom Yorke alludes to a series of EPs - which could be an interesting strategy for the group.

Albums are like books. Sometimes a chapter works on it's own, and sometimes they feel more like a collection of short stories. But for great artists they provide the listener with an amazing experience. Despite the industry struggling to find a model to move quantities, the album remains a valid way of packaging music for those that want more than just a three minute fix.

Incidentally I recall reading that Calvin Harris wanted to shun the album in favour of a string of singles. "I'm Not Alone" was to be a stop gap track to keep fans happy in the meantime. Clearly too much of a risk for Sony - the single appears on the new album in traditional style along with his collaboration with Dizzee Rascal. No doubt the cost/benefit analysis by the men in suits of trying something new was simply too daunting (though apparently pressing to double vinyl was warranted ... )

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