Radiohead - 'Ill Wind' / 'Spectre'

The deluxe edition of Radiohead's A Moon Shaped Pool - our favorite album of the year (review here) - has shipped out to fans, and it's provided some goods: namely, the brand new b-side 'Ill Wind' and their rejected James Bond theme, 'Spectre'.

While 'Spectre' isn't necessarily a new track, it's nice to see it become part of a record. It's received two formal releases prior to this: as a standalone single on Christmas day of 2015 when it was first revealed, and on a double single with 'Burn The Witch' for Record Store Day earlier this year. That's a lot of time for the song to settle in and develop in our minds. The song's haunting piano intro and dark string soundscapes still resonate in the same way as they did when the song was first released. Each chord feels like a movie scene itself, leaving you to wonder how they ended up going with Sam Smith's admittedly cliché song... 'Spectre' has so much more depth and mystery to it. The flow and progression of Jonny Greenwood's string composition along with the way Thom Yorke brokenheartedly croons "Fear puts a spell on us / Always second-guessing love / My hunger burns a bullet hole / A spectre of my mortal soul" fits the dark romantic themes of James Bond perfectly.

'Ill Wind', on the other hand, is a brand new experience. It's a chill track in line with some of A Moon Shaped Pool's groovier songs, such as 'Ful Stop' or 'Decks Dark'. Clean guitar, a light bass, and a sparkling beat bring to song to its mysterious start before Yorke's haunting vocals come in, reverberating like he was singing in a cavernous environment. The song slowly builds, synths appearing out of the song's massive background, popping like bubbles full of spacial material. The song feels like you're being swallowed into an abyss, watching the origin slowly grow smaller and smaller as you fall deeper into the darkness. In that abyss are odd objects, both otherworldly and familiar. It falls right in line with some of the band's most captivating songs, the aesthetic and all.

Even Radiohead's b-sides are masterpieces. You can't really go wrong with this band. Age makes them more and more unique and full of expression. The deluxe edition of A Moon Shaped Pool has made the album of the year even more enjoyable, if not only just a little bit. With a tinge of Bond and the classic "falling into a spiraling hole" Radiohead vibe, the songs have solidified the album as one of Radiohead's best works.

'Ill WindRating: 90 / 100

'SpectreRating: 95 / 100