Following their much discussed social media cleanse, Radiohead have finally released their first new content in nearly five years with music video, "Burn the Witch." The lead single builds upon pulsating strings, a croaking low-register vibration with drum kits, a light violin melody, and Thom Yorke's airy vocals.
The claymation visual depicts a town being investigated by an inspector who is eventually trapped in a giant wooden statue and burned alive, evoking images from The Wicker Man. While the song's visuals offer a grotesque illustration of cynicism, collusion, and cultural disdain, the song's balance of orchestral levity and weight, along with the chimes of its spattering violins and Yorke's soaring falsetto, make it awe-strikingly beautiful. Paired with lyrics dealing with a society oppressed by a superstitious culture, the song provides an accessible entry into an uncomfortable conversation on political scapegoating.
"Burn the Witch" has been a longtime project for Radiohead; renditions of the song appeared in the band's 2006 and 2008 touring campaigns and its earliest form has been dated to the Kid A era.