Radiohead – Daydreaming

Radiohead - daydreaming snow

Radiohead dropped a song out of nowhere last Tuesday. It was good enough to fill me with hope for the first time in over a decade. Then they did the seemingly impossible: released a second pre-album single, three days later, that was better than the first.

As if fans wouldn’t have gone crazy enough with a simple, “we’ve got a new album” tweet, the band went for a full-blown now you have my attention moment:

Daydreaming is one of the best songs they’ve ever recorded. It’s also one of the best music videos released by a band with a history of dropping groundbreaking visuals over two decades.

The song at first appears as a familiar piano ballad, but quietly morphs into the kind of mind-bender Radiohead excelled at in the heady opening days of this century. Remember deeply wounded love tunes like Pyramid Song, where the well-known sounds of a classic instrument are slowly embellished and blurred with subtle studio effects. It feels like looking at an old familiar photo through warped glass.

The video comes from Paul Thomas Anderson, one of the greatest living film directors. It follows a disheveled Thom Yorke as he drifts through environments mundane and fantastical, from laundromats to arctic mountaintops. Doors open portals to new rooms, new vistas, eventually cascading in hypnotic repetition. This tangible psychedelia echoes the subtle weirdness of the song itself. I’m reminded of the dreamlike sense of time passing that Anderson conveyed throughout his best film, The Master. I’ve already watched three times.

In just a few hours they’ll release the yet-untitled album.

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