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Radiohead - In Rainbows  CD (album) cover

IN RAINBOWS

Radiohead

 

Crossover Prog

3.78 | 404 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

stonebeard
2 stars In Rainbows was a revolution in music distribution and blah blah blah blah who really cares about that anyway?

What we really should be talking about is why a record review site (that may or may not rhyme with Bitchforkmedia) opted to give this album 9.3/10 when OK Computer and Kid A have 10/10. I've been told that OK Computer was some sort of watershed for rock music, and I don't know about that. Kid A is definitely a watershed for a popular rock band though, and made all the more impressive by how much ass it kicks. But In Rainbows does not deserve to be only .7 points away from these classics, even if you don't get on your knees and serve Radiohead like that certain review site. There is nothing new in In Rainbows at all. It is a tumble down a long staircase from Hail to the Thief, which most people seem to look down on for reasons I really don't know, and I know the reason. Hail to the Thief, OK Computer, and to a degree Kid A all were very filled with arrangements, layers, and tracks. In most other bands, this would be end up with saccharine strings flowing over every verse, but Radiohead managed to not only not screw of in this minefield of fail, but actually succeeded in making the album deeper and full of hidden sounds 'n' stuff that reveal themselves on later listens. That is a good thing. On In Rainbows, Radiohead whittled down their sound to nothing but the basics. On top of that, they decided to take the biggest sonically-regressive step back I could have imagined. Not only are the songs not lush, they're also boring. Maybe past Radiohead albums just elaborated on a song that would have really been bare-bones and boring were it not for all the layers.

A lot of people don't want to admit that Radiohead can make a bad album. Pablo Honey wasn't even really a Radiohead album anyway.... I'm sorry, friends, but you should be able to see that this is not as good as their other stuff. Of course, the album isn't dreadful. It's simply what you would expect of a typical, hyped-up indie band, a status which Radiohead should have progressed far beyond by now (and in fact I thought they did...). I only really like three songs on this album, All I Need, Reckoner, and Videotape. They're all very simple, but they manage to convey a degree of sadness, longing, or desolation. The rest of the album is pretty mediocre. There's nothing really awful (though I kind of wonder why the pointless little Faust Arp is in here at all) but then there is absolutely nothing inspiring that makes me say, Wow, I love what Radiohead did there. 15 Step and Bodysnatchers take queues from Thom York's glitchy electronic solo album The Eraser, but manages to be less inspiring or interesting than anything on that album. Nude and House of Cards are by-the-numbers ballads, and Weird Fishes/Arpeggi shows a bit of promise with an comforting, aquatic (!) feel, but it gets old fast when no new ideas are introduced. I can't even remember what Jigsaw Falling Into Place sounds like. You'd think after 3 or 4 listens I would have some idea of how it goes if it was in anyway memorable, but I guess not.

Don't believe the hype around In Rainbows from some indie-leaning sites. If you're on ProgArchives, then you should be looking at this album and Radiohead's career as a prog fan, in which case I imagine you'd lament this release and the turn in Radiohead's career it signals.

5/10 rounded down to 2 stars because I'm not feeling generous

stonebeard | 2/5 |

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