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Radiohead Return With “Burn the Witch,” Their First Song and Video in Nearly Five Years

Thom Yorke of Radiohead
They’re back.

Jim Dyson/Getty Images

After days of teasing fans with cryptic flyers, cryptic Instagram teasers, and the cryptic stunt that was disappearing completely from the internet, Radiohead has returned with, at last, new music. On Tuesday the band shared the long-gestating song “Burn the Witch,” with an accompanying video by Chris Hopewell (who also directed the band’s Video Music Award–winning video for “There There” from 2003’s Hail to the Thief).

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While you’re best off watching the video un-spoiled, it reveals those Instagram snippets to be part of a sort of animated recreation of the 1973 film The Wicker Man, which gets remade this time with cheerful-looking claymation instead of an unintentionally hilarious Nicolas Cage. If you’ve seen the film, you can guess where it’s going.

As for the song itself, in many ways it’s classic Radiohead, with Thom Yorke issuing an array of warnings (“Stay in the shadows/ Cheer the gallows/ This is a roundup/ This is a low-flying panic attack”) and soaring into his falsetto. The most intriguing aspect of the song is probably the arrangement, which—in addition to some scuzzy low-end synths and syncopated cymbal taps—sports staccato strings reminiscent of Jonny Greenwood’s lauded score for There Will Be Blood. A member of Radiohead’s management company recently said their new album sounds “nothing like you’ve ever heard”—could they be headed into a new, orchestral phase?

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