Radiohead burst onto the Britpop scene in the early 1990s with a clamorous, post-U2 take on guitar rock, buoyed by the hit "Creep." They subsequently developed their songwriting and production skills on THE BENDS and achieved iconic status with their breakthrough album OK COMPUTER, making art-rock cool again in the process. The mercurial band's long-awaited follow-up three years later was a sharp left turn full of ambient electronics and Can-like sonic deconstruction, and they've continued the trend with subsequent albums and solo projects. The connecting thread through all the band's phases has been Thom Yorke's intense vocal frenzy.
Radiohead release their new album "In Rainbows" on XL Recordings on 31st December 2007.The album is released on CD and vinyl and will be followed by the release of the single "Jigsaw Falling Into Place" on January 14th January 2008. The single is already the most played track from the album on UK and US radio. "In Rainbows" was released in download format earlier this year, when it was received with huge acclaim in the press.
On the deliriously satisfying In Rainbows, Radiohead returns to a more straight-ahead (though subdued) rock sound. Much hubbub has been made about this record's innovative release. Radiohead allowed fans to pay what they wished to download fairly low-resolution tracks from the band's own website. Like so many innovations, it already seems funny both that it was such big news and that someone else of similar stature hadn't done it sooner. Some pundits were appalled that it took awhile to download the tracks if you tried to do it at the same time as thousands of other people, while others decried that the group was trying to kill the music industry (or save it). Little of the press seemed to focus on the record itself, which actually made sense because it was so entertaining and inviting, the most low-key album Radiohead has made to date. There's even a very straight-forward, simple, silly little love song, "House of Cards." It might be a bit lethargic, but the simple instrumentation of electric guitars, bass, and drums is lovely as heck. A handful of these tunes enchanted fans for years before finally being committed to computer "tape." This is particularly fitting as In Rainbows is the group's most "band"-sounding album since OK Computer. This is not a record that hits you over the head with how far this group is pushing the envelope; it's simply a phenomenal, well-crafted, and exciting album. As soon as it's done, you're playing it again. --Mike McGonigal
Radiohead - In Rainbows
Okay so let's get it out of the way, yes I paid for this album, how much is not important but I will say that it was probably more than most. Why, you may ask? Well, I figure when one of your favorite bands decides to go out on limb you should support them as best you can, especially if you'd like to continue to enjoy their music in the future. While the way Radiohead decided to release their album has gotten all the headlines, the music itself has almost been overlooked, which is a shame because this is their best album since Kid A and front to back their most consistent, immediate and accessible album to date.
This is the band at the top of their game using every weapon in their arsenal and making it all seem easy. Like Tiger Woods on the golf course, they stand out in a field of wannabes and show everyone how it's supposed to be done. This is an uncluttered, minimalist album in which every song has an ease and grace unlike anything they've ever done before. For the first time in ages they aren't trying to reinvent themselves; they seem unconcerned with being groundbreakers and just seem to enjoy being one of the greatest bands of our time.
In many ways this is Radiohead being Radiohead and doing what they do best. You need some Kid A skronking and grinding? - "15 Steps" is for you. You need some OK Computer-type riffage and cacophony? - try "Bodysnatchers" or "Jigsaw Falling Into Place". How about some "Fake Plastic Trees" balladry? - "Nude" or "House of Cards" will fit the bill. The band isn't copying themselves so much as they're consolidating their strengths into one perfect album. The whole thing is so well-conceived and produced that you're exhilarated by hearing the best band in the world just being themselves with nothing to prove.
In Rainbows is also without a doubt the most beautiful and tender album of their whole career, almost as if after three albums of paranoid ranting and existential fear they have said "screw the world" and looked inward to find what beauty is left in the world. This is most evident in the lyrics and Thom Yorke's approach to singing them. He has never written such personal and direct songs or sang them with such gorgeous ease. Thom's lyrics have always been a search for human contact amid the chaos of modern society, it seems he's finally found some of that contact and now his greatest fear is figuring out how to keep it. The bulk of the album is devoted to these songs: "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi", "Reckoner", "All I Need", "House of Cards", "Jigsaw Falling Into Place", "Videotape". Every one of these songs touch on human relationships and that four-letter word in Radioheadland, love. After making records full of fear, anger, alienation, and politics, the band has gone and made their "relationship" album. The result of this new focus is highlighted most obviously in the album's centerpiece "All I Need", anchored by a haunting synth-line and Thom's most direct and sentimental lyrics it grows from a sparse ballad into a swelling statement of desire and longing that stays with you long after it's 3:49 running time ends in a crescendo of piano, drums, guitar and electronics.
After a few albums that were less than the sum of their parts Radiohead has gone back to basics and sounds like a real band again, not a science experiment. In some ways In Rainbows is a summation of Radiohead's career until now; time will tell if this is an ending or the beginning of something new for a band that never stays in any one place for too long. At the moment they seem to be as content and, dare I say it, happy as they've been in a long, long time.
Favorite songs - "All I Need", "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi", "Bodysnatchers."
Jim, Tower Pulse - 01/01/08
If You Enjoy "In Rainbows (CD)", May We Also Recommend:
Thom Yorke is a genius. If you have not followed the trail of brilliance that
Radiohead has blessed the whole world with since their first seminal release,
then you are missing out on some of the most beautifully contructed, moody
soundscapes to ever have existed. Period. All hail Thom Yorke.