A Night Owl Swimming in “A Moon Shaped Pool”: Why Radiohead Is Keeping Us Awake

three moons

I was editing three of my favorite moon photos together while listening to A Moon Shaped Pool and was inspired to write this article. Photo by Carly Christine Photography .

There’s nothing more haunting than the sound of Thom Yorke cooing in your ear late in the night, but we can all rest easy knowing that after a 5 year hiatus, Radiohead
has brought us just the musical gift we’ve been restlessly waiting for: album number nine, A Moon Shaped Pool. 

All those thoughts, doubts, and feelings reserved for 3am that plague our brains in the dark are backed by the eerie raw Radiohead sound fans have come to know and crave.

Emotions ranging from love to panic are covered in this chilling selection. Some numbers, like “Burn the Witch” even carry underlying political tones, addressing the isolation of immigrant groups and barbaric mob mentality. Fear of descending into the unknown is conveyed in the graceful ballad “Glass Eyes,” whose calm instrumental moment contrasts the anxiety of the lyrics while emphasizing the sadness of feeling “love turn cold.” The aloof heartbroken “Identikit” that follows is more antsy with its use of guitar and is akin to the impatience heard in “Burn The Witch”. Hopeful “Desert Island Disk” (after the BBC 4 Radio talk show) might as well be a lullaby, whereas “Daydreaming” might be the most unnerving track on the album with its slew of frightening background vocals and ambient noise.

The orchestral progressions that mark this album make the tracks transition smoothly from one to the next, making it difficult to simply listen to one song. A Moon Shaped Pool is a series of disturbed and impassioned waves that rise and fall. Once you start riding, these waves engulf you. You drown and feel like you are mentally swimming (or floating) in whatever otherworldly Moon Shaped Pool the band manifested. Thom’s signature uneasy vocal peaks and troughs provide for a sound that is as foreign as the moon, yet unapologetically Radiohead.

This beautiful fusion of electronic, rock, and classical styles will keep you listening all night and force you to feel something profound-even if you are emotionally squeamish.


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