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Radiohead adopts “cryptic, threatening letter” approach to marketing its new album

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By all accounts, we’re getting pretty close to the release of Radiohead’s still-untitled next album, which the band will presumably be supporting with its series of upcoming festival dates. (But watch this space for Thom Yorke’s soon-to-be-demanded correction denouncing the very idea of festivals, or possibly the concept of time.) Correspondingly, the band seems to have switched its standard marketing stance from “aloof” to “threatening and mysterious,” because Radiohead is the musical equivalent of an abusive-but-debonair villain on a standard daytime soap.

U.K. fans of the band received leaflets in the mail this morning, featuring the cryptic message, “Sing the song of sixpence, burn the witch,” an image recently posted on Radiohead’s social media, and an embossed stamp of the band’s bear-head logo. Oh, and the cryptic, slightly worrying phrase “We know where you live.” (Although, now that we think about it, that was sort of already implied by sending them something in the mail.)


It’s pretty obvious that the message is related to the upcoming album release, but fans have gone into super sleuth mode to work out what, exactly, it might mean. The sixpence and witch stuff is easy: those are lyrics from an unreleased track, “Burn The Witch,” that the band has been hinting at for more than a decade. Meanwhile, Reddit detectives used their powers for good—or, at least, for Radiohead—for once and noticed that either today or tomorrow (calendars disagree, apparently) is Walpurgisnacht, a European holiday that literally translates as “Witch’s Night.” Tomorrow is also International Dawn Chorus Day—a holiday in which we’re all encouraged to pretend we like getting up and watching the sun rise—which is potentially significant because “Dawn Chorus” is the name of a company that band members recently founded in advance of the album’s release.


As for the “We know where you live” part… Who knows? Maybe it’s the first step in the band’s latest wacky music distribution scheme, and the leaflets act as homing beacons for the hordes of drones that will forcibly airdrop the album into people’s homes. Or maybe Thom Yorke just enjoys reminding people that he could show up at their doorsteps whenever he wants, to whisk them away on a journey of magical sonic exploration. Or maybe they just thought it sounded kind of creepy and cool. Again, it’s Radiohead: Who knows?

[via Rolling Stone]