Ever since Radiohead‘s eighth album The King of Limbs was released in February, a significant number of the band’s fans have insisted that the eight-song record was the first part of a larger work or series of EPs. One website, The King of Limbs Part 2, is devoted to proving that a follow-up is in the pipeline. This is very odd, as the band have said absolutely nothing to support this theory and have consistently advertised The King of Limbs as a complete, discrete work.
It’s easy to see why fans would believe more Radiohead music is on the way. The band set a precedent a decade ago by releasing Kid A and Amnesiac, two albums recorded during the same sessions, less than a year apart in 2000 and 2001. Members of the group have also talked about transitioning into abandoning the album format in favor of releasing EPs and singles in various interviews over the past few years.
The band clearly has an open mind about atypical releases and very well could put out more music in the near future. The peculiar thing is that so many fans are insisting that the 37-minute, 29-second-long album is not, in fact, an album at all, despite the band labeling it as such.
It could be that fans are disappointed that The King of Limbs is a relatively brief work, particularly after waiting four years since the group’s previous record In Rainbows. Others may be let down by the muted, arty music (even compared to their experimental Kid A) on Limbs, and are eager to fit the record into a larger career narrative. Strangely, it could be that many people have forgotten that albums can be brief or contain a relatively small number of compositions after decades of track listings bloated by the expansive constraints of CDs.
In the vinyl era, it was not unusual at all for albums to have eight songs or fewer. Led Zeppelin‘s IV, Television‘s Marquee Moon, Patti Smith‘s Horses and Roxy Music‘s For Your Pleasure also contain 8 tracks. Steely Dan‘s Aja, Kraftwerk‘s Trans Europe Express, Can‘s Tago Mago, Pink Floyd‘s Wish You Were Here and the Velvet Underground‘s White Light/White Heat all have fewer tracks.
In terms of album length, 37:29 is longer than a host of classic albums including the Beatles‘ Revolver, the Beach Boys‘ Pet Sounds, Nick Drake‘s Pink Moon, Joni Mitchell‘s Blue, Dusty Springfield‘s Dusty in Memphis, Wire‘s Pink Flag, Slayer‘s Reign in Blood and Sleater-Kinney‘s Dig Me Out.
It’s not even usual for recent records to be so brief. Joanna Newsom’s acclaimed album Ys has five tracks, while Sleigh Bells’ celebrated debut Treats from last year clocks in at a lean 32:04.
Though many of Radiohead’s fans are old-school obsessives who are willing to pore over the band’s website and artwork searching for clues that may lead to new music, a lot of them seem to have very rigid notions of what an album can be.