It’s been a while since I provided grist for one of our “Weekly debates.”

So I’ve been listening to the new Radiohead album, The King of Limbs, on pretty much a constant loop. It is quite excellent. For the first few measures of the opener, “Bloom,” one would not be faulted for assuming that Thom Yorke had won the struggle for the band’s direction, a struggle that has involved Yorke’s ongoing commitment to electronica versus the rest of the band (allegedly) wanting to get back to more straightforward rock roots. Indeed when Yorke issued a solo album in 2006 the band’s fans felt palpitations of fear that Radiohead would break up. But it soon sets in that Radiohead has taken a step forward with an all-too-short album of stark, spare, atmospheric, brilliant music that pushes the band forward while contributing to the Radiohead continuum.

In some ways this reminds me of similar issues involving another all-time great band that has similarly stretched itself by following electronica and yet steps away from the sort of brink that leads to a band’s dissolution. U2, like Radiohead, also tends to take a slow-and-steady approach to releasing albums, allowing years to lapse between recordings in most cases, making the release of a new album a bona fide event even in a fragmented music world. U2 releases are events because, well, they are U2. Radiohead has turned its releases into events in part because Radiohead is Radiohead, but also because the last two releases challenged the traditional model of the studios. In Rainbows came out with the famous “name your own price” download. The band released The King of Limbs early as a download as a complete shock even to loyal fans with a followup down the road in which the album will be released on vinyl with a series of extra googaws for the fanboys (and girls).

Let’s iterate to agreement that both are all-time great bands. (So, please, no “U2 sucks” or “Radiohead swallows.”) But: Radiohead v. U2: Who ya got?

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