Radiohead – In Rainbows


1. The best album of ’07, which housed a lot of modern classics. 

2. The pay-what-you-want release method definitely deserves to be talked about, as I have just done.

3. For the first time since “High & Dry,” which showed Radiohead succumbing to (instead of overcoming) the Britpop movement around them – which, for the record, Thom Yorke hates, probably for that reason – Radiohead makes a record chalk full of accessible pop songs. Well…as poppy as Radiohead can be while still retaining the fundamentals that make them Radiohead; because Nigel Godrich wasn’t involved until the late stages of the album’s creation, there isn’t the extra bombast of their preceding records. That being said, it is important to remember that this regression into safeness can be seen in every album post-Kid AAmnesiac as the younger and less-intelligent brother to Kid AHail to the Thief as a half-and-half mix of their alternative rock and electronic-fascinated phases in an attempt to satisfy everyone and ironically becoming the underdog of their discography in the process. Still, though, it’s silly to fault Radiohead for not coming up with another total reinvention, and at the very basic level, In Rainbows is a solid record, comprised of solid tracks. 

4. Like “Electioneering” off OK Computer, it’s clear that “Bodysnatchers” has no business being on here. Like half of Hail to the Thief, it sounds like it was included to appeal to any fans that they lost from the nineties on the way through the naughties. But Radiohead has always been good at tracklisting, and this fact isn’t noticeable through initial playthroughs of the record. It follows the half-groove / half-serious opener “15 Step” as a sort of wake-up call, though listening to a Radiohead record is, in itself, a wake-up call, if any. I quite like the central riff, it’s certainly more immediate than some of Radiohead’s other most rawkin’ moments, and I do like Colin Greenwood slamming on a muted bass as a sort of added percussion and only permitted to do so because the central riff is bassy enough. Thom Yorke’s falsetto-ed inflections in his last proper verse, “You can fight it like a dog / And they brought me to my knees” make it stand out, much more than the first verse, anyway. As I said, not a bad song, by any means, but if you play the album on shuffle (Lord knows why you would), it’s actually abrasive if it follows any of the ballads, which comprise around 70% of the album (the other exceptions are: the bookending sections of “15 Step”; the chaotic ending of “All I Need”; the funkish “Jigsaw Falling Into Place”).

5. Though Phil Selway’s contributions are jazzier than ever before, he still won’t win drummer of the year awards any time soon because after figuring out what he wants to play for a measure he often just plays that measure for the rest of the song.

6. I’ve mentioned this previously in my review of OK Computer, but the buildup of “Nude,” “You go to hell …”, which is easily the best moment of the entire album after the breakdown on “Reckoner,” takes the main melody of “The Tourist” and fleshes it out. It’s not an issue; just something I’d feel derelict in my duties as a reviewer if I didn’t point it out. Another good moment on the album is the way Thom Yorke carelessly grunts before the arpeggio come in on “Weird Fish.”

7. Nine of these tracks are good, and the tenth one isn’t so much bad as it is a case of the could-have-been-better’s, and since most people will have written more elaborate praise for most of these tracks, I’ll just defend the one that everyone seems to forget/criticize – “Faust Arp.” As the shortest track, it’s certainly not given any room to really develop, the way that most of these tracks with their bipartitism or bridges do, but it still manages to, when the string composition comes in, grounded by Jonny Greenwood’s finger-picked riff that Thom Yorke’s voice harmonizes perfectly with. And I quite like the rhymes Yorke sneaks in “Guess I’m stuffed, stuffed, stuffed […] / Is enough is enough is enough / I love you but enough is enough, enough of that stuff.” For people who complain that there’s too much Thom Yorke on this track, why are you listening to Radiohead in the first place?

8. As for that other track? Like “Motion Picture Soundtrack” off Kid A, there are simply better live renditions floating around of “Videotape.” You can hear a fuller band experience in the live version at Bonnaroo in 2006, or an even more stripped away experience in Thom Yorke’s solo live version in the Basement in 2008 (that appears as a b-side to “Jigsaw Falling Into Place”) which comes complete with a bridge and removes the useless mechanical drum loop. I also don’t care for the Mephistopheles invocation, which seems, along with “Faust Arp”‘s title, just to show the world what books Thom Yorke was reading at the time. I’ve read them too, thanks. Not to mention the riff was copped from a Brian Eno song anyway (see: [,Not Yet Remembered]).

9. That being said, this is my favorite Radiohead record, though I submit that OK Computer is better and Kid A is more important. The reason being is simple: after outgrowing Radiohead’s brand of catharses, this is the only record that I still identify with because, as Ed O’Brien writes, “[The lyrics] were universal. There wasn’t a political agenda. It’s being human.” There is no other lyric in Radiohead’s entire discography that hits harder than “I’m an animal / Trapped in your hot car” (“All I Need”) or “I don’t want to be your friend / I just want to be your lover” (“House of Cards”) or “This is my way of saying goodbye / Because I can’t do this face-to-face / I’m talking to you after it’s too late” (“Videotape”). (Notice, especially, how Thom Yorke’s vocals become more desperate in each of those lines from “Videotape” before returning to the main melody right after; wonderful.) 


2 responses to “Radiohead – In Rainbows

  1. Pingback: Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late | Free City Sounds·

  2. Pingback: 3 Album Reviews: Mountain Goats and Sufjan Steves (Internal Apocalypse) | Free City Sounds·

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