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Radiohead - In Rainbows  CD (album) cover

IN RAINBOWS

Radiohead

 

Crossover Prog

3.78 | 390 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars All the advance publicity for Radiohead's first album in four years (since '03s intermittently great Hail to the Thief) has been about whether the band has taken a truly progressive step in sounding the death knell of the traditional record industry. Whether the music on the record is progressive is open to debate. It's certainly less avant garde on this one than on Kid A or Amnesiac. That argument though is ultimateky irrelevent. What Radiohead do is quest for more from their music, from their creative experience to inclusion here is merited whether they drench it all in mellotrons or not. So what do we have here? Based on the opening 15 Steps initial impressions are Radiohead continuing with the flavour opf Hail to the Thief. Skittering electronic snare ripple and distorted bas thumps and a solo Thom Yorke vocal suggest something from the Eraser but then Jonny Greenwood's uneffected guitar trundles in stage left followed by a matching bassline. It could be one of Hail to the Thief's blander moments. Pleasant but with noe of the impact of say 2+2=5. The next one up is much more interesting. Bodysnatchers is a rollicking psychedelic flavoured track, anchored by a distorted McCartney-esque bass riff, it's joined by a matching guitar figure and the layering goes on with mor guitar motifs and synths before it kicks back with a softer middle eight, which eventuall resolves back into the driving riff for a cracked, angular guitar-driven finale. Much more fun. And it's here where the album departs for new Radiohead territories. Nothing earth shattering but for the bulk of the following tracks In Rainbows is all about mellow, relaxation. Nude is built is built on a lulling, round guitar figure medling into a string-drenched finale. Weird Fishes ups the pace but the guitar sound is the same, full, round, with just the midlest clipping distortion. It sounds almost DI'd. acompanied by a repeating vibes pattern it's a comfy ride. Faust Arp sounds like we're a burst of synthesised, droning Krautrock but in fac t it's a gentle acoustic and string-thick lullaby, which could just be the best track on the album despite its brevity. There are other contenders for that title though. The lovely House of Cards is built on a sweet chord sequence that enables Thom's to induloge in some heavily reverbed falsetto wails while Jonny gets out the trick bag of guitar effects for some artful soundscaping. Jigsaw Falling Into Place too has its moments. The opening acoustic guitar riff is similar in feel to the Paranoid Android riff but approached without that song's vicious intensity. Propelled Thom's lower register vocal and a straightforward drum and bass pattern it builds to a solid 'chorus' augmented by solid electric guitar playing and a lovely post chorus instrumental melody, again polished by the presence of strings. The final track Videotape is nothing more than a lovely pinao ballad, a simple four note sequence which reveals itself to be hypnotically affecting, especially when the layered voices and stumbling electronic drums join the main vocal. This version of In Rainbows is no instant classic. In fact, it almost feels like a mini album, a taste of something to come. Those os us who invested heavily in the double vinyl, double cd Discbox which comes with a load of extra material will hope for something greater, a more rounded experience. Time will tell. As it is, In Rainbows is a sound addition to the Radiohead song canon but as an album feels incomplete. Individually, these are all worthwhile songs, with no apparent howlers, but unlike past Radiohead outings there is no sense of a unifying purpose, of a band captured in a phase of development or creative momentum. And if you're searching for classic Radiohead moments then only Bodysnatchers or Faust Arp may ultimately deliver.
arcer | 3/5 |

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