Radiohead – In Rainbows

Radiohead – In Rainbows

4.5/5

2007

This is the case of an album whose story almost overshadows the music itself. During Radiohead’s longest break in between studio albums, the band began to slowly post mysterious encoded artwork and fragments of lyrics on their website, piquing the interest of both the press and public. Then without warning, Jonny Greenwood made a startling announcement. Not only was the new album (now called In Rainbows) coming out in 10 days as a direct download, but you could pick what you wanted to pay for it—even get it for free. The subsequent buzz was near-deafening, with everyone from analysts to fans dissecting just what this bold marketing meant for the music industry and for the band, almost forgetting the impending release of the record itself.

With all of this hubbub, necessary or not, In Rainbows could have easily been remembered for its release strategy. Fortunately, not only did the album turn out to be good, it turned out to be a masterpiece. It’s not as visionary as OK Computer or Kid A, nor does it deliver the anthemic catharsis of The Bends. Instead, In Rainbows is the band’s version of a romantic record, more unabashedly gorgeous and emotional than anything they have released. Of course, this being Radiohead, things aren’t so cut and dry. These aren’t gushing, adoring ballads but songs of alienation (“Reckoner”), unrequited love (“Weird Fishes/Arpeggi,” “All I Need,” “Jigsaw Falling Into Place”) and the pitfalls of casual sex (“Nude,” “House Of Cards”). Sonically, it’s their most rock-oriented since OK Computer, and though it is not as complex as that record, In Rainbows has a cleaner, tighter sound befitting a record so direct. Indeed, not only is the ringing piano on “Videotape” and clattering percussion on “Reckoner” delivered with a punch, but Thom Yorke’s lyrics are more straightforward than they’ve ever been, helping underscore every emotion the music evokes. In Rainbows is also a spiritual successor to OK Computer in that its experimentalism mainly runs beneath the surface, unveiling smaller details over time. Coming off of a long break and the somewhat uneven Hail To The Thief, perhaps the biggest surprise of this fantastic seventh record was that it proved Radiohead to still be at the top of their game.

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Posted on March 4, 2011, in Radiohead. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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