The track will be available to download at one minute past midnight on Wednesday (May 4th), and is the first to be taken from their as-yet-untitled 9th album.
Hours after teasing fans with two mysterious, animated short clips via Instagram, Radiohead have delighted their legions of followers by releasing the music video for a new single ‘Burn the Witch’, the first from their brand new forthcoming album.
The Oxford five-piece, renowned for their ground-breaking albums, have spent most of 2016 dropped small clues online about a possible new release. Two days ago, on May 1st, they had removed virtually their entire online presence, whiting out their official website and deleting the content of their Twitter, Google Plus and Facebook accounts.
Early on Tuesday morning (May 3rd), they then released a short clip of an animated bird chirping – leading many to confirm that their ninth album would be called Dawn Chorus, because they had already set up a company earlier this year with the same name – and, a few hours, later, of a medievally-dressed woman tied to a stake surrounded by masked men with swords.
Finally, the same afternoon, they made the new song ‘Burn the Witch’ available via Spotify and posted a similarly-animated video on YouTube. Radiohead also announced that, at one minute past midnight on May 4th, the song would be available to download.
Thematically, the track is in extremely familiar Radiohead territory, describing the feeling of suspicion and paranoia that pervades society in times of war and ignorance, with a lyrical sample going “Stay in the shadows / cheer the gallows / this is a round-up / this is a low-flying panic attack”.
Radiohead (Thom Yorke pictured) released a new track 'Burn The Witch' on Tuesday afternoon (May 3rd)
Singer Thom Yorke has for a long time been outspoken about such human rights issues, commenting on them in a great many Radiohead tracks as well as in his solo material. Musically, the new song boasts Yorke’s ever-dependable, soulful vocal style with evidence of Jonny Greenwood’s increasingly classically-informed musical approach.
However, some have commented that the song actually dates back to 2006, when it was played (in an entirely different and embryonic form, admittedly) at a gig in June in Berkeley, United States. The title itself can even be seen in the artwork for their 2003 album Hail to the Thief. The band’s last album, 2011’s The King of Limbs, suffered from a similar problem, with some songs dating as far back as 2002.