After a nearly five-year drought with nary a drop of new Radiohead, the band just revealed that they’re coming back in a flood. After releasing “Burn the Witch” earlier this week, they’ve just returned with yet another new single and music video. And there’s even more coming this weekend: The band also announced that their ninth album will be out on Sunday at 7 p.m. British Standard Time. (That’s 2 p.m. Eastern.)
The video for “Daydreaming” is directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, who is of course a longtime collaborator of Radiohead guitarist and composer Jonny Greenwood, on movies like There Will Be Blood as well as the recent Greenwood documentary Junun. But its concept is most reminiscent of one that Christian Marclay, the mashup master responsible for The Clock, described a few years ago in a New Yorker profile. It consists of a number of tracking shots following Thom Yorke as he travels through various doors and hallways, but the shots are stitched together in such a way that gives the illusion of impossible architecture. Every time Yorke travels through a door, he emerges in an unexpected new location. In other words, the video follows a sort of twisty dream logic that matches the title and unpredictable structure of the song.
As for the song itself, it’s a melancholy, off-kilter piano ballad that’s perhaps most akin to the similarly surreal “Pyramid Song,” from Amnesiac. Over a bed of soft piano that seems designed to lull you into a false sense of security, Yorke sings lyrics that, like the lyircs of “Burn the Witch,” are about pretending everything is OK when nothing is: “Dreamers, they never learn,” Yorke laments, adding, “It’s too late—the damage is done.” Also like “Burn the Witch,” perhaps the song’s most notable feature is the way it trades in the usual drums and electric guitars for orchestral strings. Fans all know what happened the last time the band set down its drumsticks and guitars. But unlike on Amnesiac and Kid A, it sounds like the new album will find them picking up not laptops and synthesizers but batons.
Update, May 6, 2016, 2 p.m.: If, like us, you were left wondering what Yorke is saying in the backwards-sounding portion at the end, we’ve reversed the video. It remains somewhat unclear what Yorke is singing: “I’ve found my love”? “Half of my life”? “That gum you like is going to come back in style”?