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Radiohead - In Rainbows CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.83 | 642 ratings

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4 stars "In Rainbows" is Radiohead's 7th full length studio album which was released after several years after the band's contract was fulfilled with their previous album "Hail to the Thief", which to me was a bit less interesting than the albums made around it. "In Rainbows" sees the band return to a slightly more accessible style with some lovely songs, yet the tracks are kept interesting enough with the band's sound manipulations and variations. This album ends up being an art-pop/rock masterpiece as Radiohead shows the world how it is done. It was also nice to have this slightly "lighter" album that relied more on structured melody than on improvisational melody. These are tracks that stick in your memory a lot better and are more appealing. The band's continued use of a combination of standard instrumentation and electronica is what keeps them interesting and they pull it off quite amazingly on this album.

15 Step - Thom's vocals against a background of percussion and tricky handclaps gives one the impression that this is going back to the "OK Computer" through "Amnesiac" days, but ends up landing in the "Hail to the Thief" days. It's an interesting combination of old and new Radiohead styles with enough experimental sound manipulations to keep it new, yet straightforward enough to catch your attention right away.

Bodysnatchers - Starts with a nice, fuzzy guitar lick that the entire track builds off of for a heavier sound with a driving, rocking beat. Yorke likes to compare this to a cross between "Neu!" and "Wolfmother". It does end up being a cool mixing of old and new again, but in a more rocked out style than the first track.

Nude - This was originally recorded for "OK Computer", but the band never felt comfortable enough with it at that time, so it was updated for "In Rainbows". It's a more minimal sound than the previous tracks, but in the lovely, simple/complex style that the band is well known for. It is based around Greenwood's bass line. This differs from their original idea for the track which was actually inspired by Al Green. This newer version seems to take inspiration more from Bjork, with that eerie beauty that she embodies in her songs.

Weird Fishes/Arpeggi - A nice smooth and flowing beat that rolls ahead and makes you feel like you are floating along with it. Yorke's vocals only enhance that floating sensation this track has, but his emotional pull in his voice only makes it all that much more intriguing. The jangly guitar riff seems to be based on an arpeggio riff which could be where the 2nd half of the title comes from. Mists of darkness invade the last part of the track in the form of interesting sound constructs.

All I Need - A slow downbeat brings this rare song about love and obsession (rare in the case of Radiohead). The album's version of the song uses an audience recording as the basis giving it a somewhat amateurish and dirty feel, but the chimes playing over the top brightens things up. The last part of the song becomes more dronelike in the background, which was created by a string section playing a basic scale and then blanketing the sound.

Faust Arp - Heavy strings and acoustic guitar act as a foundation to a somewhat rambling melody sung by Yorke. This one tends to be buried in the album mainly because of its brevity, but with time, it really starts to stand out.

Reckoner - This is one of those wandering melody tracks that Yorke tends to do so well with his falsetto. The piano/guitar background seems to want to fall into a predictable pattern, but instead wanders around chords in an unpredictable way and this is the thing that makes it progressive. Things break down in the middle of the track, but when the main melody returns later, it is accompanied by a string section that really beautifies the entire track. This is a track that will grow on you the more you pay attention to it's little nuances.

House of Cards - This track was originally meant to be like an R.E.M. song, but was almost completely overhauled. The melody is fairly simple and straightforward, but it's the instrumentation that keeps it original and fresh all the way through. Some sound manipulation gives the song an eerie warble in various places. It's things like this that make Radiohead's music so lovely in new, unique ways that other band's can't seem to copy.

Jigsaw Falling Into Place - After hearing several songs with dreamy, underhanded beats, it's nice to have this one in the track list where it is. The beat is more upfront here and is the driving force behind the track. Also, the way the track so effectively builds to the heavier and more intense middle section is very effective. The use of the strings building even more on the third verse is the perfect way to cap off this track.

Videotape - A good way to end the album with a simple, repetitive piano motif produced by variations of chord patterns and Yorke's mesmerizing vocals. Some limping percussive pattern joins in later along with some eerie sound manipulations give the track the variation it needs to keep it interesting.

One of the issues I have with this album is that it does tend to drag a bit towards the last half, at least in the first several listens. This issue tends to iron itself out as you become more familiar with the album and the placement of "Jigsaw Falling Into Place" also helps to brighten up the darker feel of the 2nd half. However, this is still an excellent album which falls at the right place in the band's discography. "Hail to the Thief" could have been followed by less memorable albums along that same line, however, the band, after allegedly many sessions, were able to work out the doldrums issues and produced this great album which for me brought back a lot of the original enthusiasm I had for the band through their "The Bends" through "Amnesiac" stage. The slight misstep of "Hail to the Thief" was corrected quite well by "In Rainbows".

TCat | 4/5 |


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