Wednesday 10 October 2007

Radiohead - In Rainbows

The method of release for this, Radiohead's seventh album, has caused quite a stir already in the music industry. It isn't the first time that a band have chosen to cut out the record company and release music directly to the fans, it isn't even the first time that they have let those fans decide whether they want to pay for it or not, but it is the first time that a band with the calibre of Radiohead have made such a move and as a result there is already talk of Oasis, Jamiroqaui and Nine Inch Nails following suit.

After all the hoo-ha though is the album any good? Well I awoke yesterday to find an email from the website with my download details, so much nicer to receive a message like that rather than 'your new bill is ready to view online'. I quickly downloaded it, transfered it onto disc and also onto my phone as I was off to work in the car and it only has a tape player. Now let's be honest, listening to a new release through the slightly tinny speaker of a mobile phone is not the full sonic experience the boys were probably hoping me to experience, although there was something rather apposite about the setting of a traffic jam on the A10 with a light rain covering the windscreen.

So I had a greedy first listen on the way there (and a little refresher on the way back) but the first listen proper was at home and I'm happy to say that it's great. Opener 15 Step has the kind of skittering beats that show the influence of the Warp Records catalogue on our Thom (and is that children shouting 'Yey' towards the end there?). I have always been a fan of The Bends and so it's a bit of guitar I look forward to and on Bodysnatchers we have them in spades, it sounds a little like the wonderfully messy Radiohead of Pablo Honey days. Sure enough we have a ballad up next in Nude, is this fatherhood having an effect on Mr Yorke? And then we have some of the more experimental, boundary testing side of things in Weird Fishes/Arpeggi. And that's only the first four tracks.

Hail To The Thief was an album which was filled with the protest of living in the era of George Bush, Tony Blair and Iraq. In Rainbows sounds more like the sound of a band learning to live in the fallout. Yorke's lyrics sometimes seem to have gone a little soft, 'You're all I need' or 'I don't wanna be your friend, I wanna be your lover' but worry not, both of these lines are quickly followed by 'I'm just an insect trying to get out of the light' and 'Infrastructure will collapse'. This is a fanatastic collection of songs, an album in the proper sense of the word. Thom's voice sounds great (if still a little mumbly) the playing of the other band members is extraordinary at times, making guitars soound like strings on House of Cards, John Barry-like harpsichord and strings on Jigsaw Falling Into Place, a Beatles-like lightness to Faust Arp.

Anyway you don't need me to convince you, you can get the album yourself for whatever you'd like to pay here. Just to help you along the way there is a track below. We should all be thankful that there are bands like Radiohead; asking questions, pushing boundaries and all the time producing haunting beautiful music.

House of Cards


John Self 22 October 2007 at 23:00  

It's tremendous, isn't it? I think Alexis Petridis in the Guardian was right when he called it their strongest collection of songs in ten years (but then I hear that some of them, like House of Cards, have been around since the OK Computer sessions anyway).

Anonymous,  14 August 2008 at 17:14  

What do you feel about it now that you've had a bit of time with it? I think it's possibly their most consisent album, my favourite since 'Kid A' - but Radiohead mean different things to different people.

William Rycroft 15 August 2008 at 12:25  

I love it James, but then I love pretty much anything they do. Even their weaker tracks are more interesting than most fare around. I agree with you about consistency and with John above. As an album it works better than anything since OK Computer which is still for me a thrilling experience every time I put it on.

Whilst I'm here James let me thank you for Grizzly Bear. I'm listening to Yellow House at the moment and it's extraordinary. Rich and complex and beautiful. Thanks again.

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