Radiohead Releases Surprise Video; ‘Burn the Witch’ Single Available Wednesday

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If Beyoncé is pop music’s surprise-release avatar of empowerment, Radiohead is its messenger of realism and dread as seen and heard in the band’s new video and accompanying single, “Burn the Witch.”

“Stay in the shadows, cheer the gallows,” Thom Yorke says at the outset of a song colored throughout by insistent strings and a low, droning tone that sounds like a fuzzy mechanical groan or, as depicted in the video, a tiny lawnmower. Gone are the glitchy beat collages of Radiohead’s 2011 release “The King of Limbs,” and in its place are orchestral flourishes and a steady, cinematic build.

With allusions to “red crosses on wooden doors,” apathy and the abandonment of reason, Radiohead’s latest conjures an atmosphere perfectly reflected in the Chris Hopewell-directed clip, which looks a little like “Davey & Goliath” meets the 1973 film “The Wicker Man.”

The single will be released Wednesday, May 4, and comes in the wake of a surprise mailing from Radiohead to its fans this weekend paired with the ominous message “We know where you live.” The news coupled with the band’ decision to wipe clean its social media feeds only furthered speculation that a new album was imminent.

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