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Radiohead - In Rainbows CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

3.82 | 559 ratings

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Fight Club
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Name your own price? What?

Just a couple weeks ago Radiohead revealed they were releasing a new album. Not only were they releasing an album, but they were releasing it online. For whatever price the customer was willing to pay, anywhere from nothing to infinite. I have to commend Radiohead and such an awesome and original idea. This is the kind of thing that forces people to think "what is the music worth to me?" a question I often bother myself with. In the case of this album, I'd say it wouldn't be worth more to me than a regular priced CD, probably less.

Radiohead's seventh full album release demonstrates nothing excitingly new from the band. We get the same beat and synth laced tunes Radiohead have been putting out since Kid A. However, this album is a bit more mellow than their other recent ones. The sound is often very airy with laid back keyboard textures and some simple guitar. Only a few moments touch upon to eccentric distortion that marked Radiohead's early career.

What makes this album worth buying?

Honestly, not much. After repeated listens the only thing that really gets my attention is their usual ability to create some nice atmospherics. Not any special psychedelics whirlwinds of synth, just nice textures. There's some mellotron strings right in the beginning of the album (which sadly aren't seen again), and if you know me I'm a sucker for mellotron. Unfortunately, the album lacks a lot of the strong qualities that were found on OK Computer and The Bends.

For one thing there are an unusual absence of hooks and catchy melodies. Of course the catchiness of a song isn't one of the things I find most important in music, but for Radiohead this should at least be somewhat necessary. I hear a lot of opinions floating around describing this album as having "solid" songs. When the word "solid" comes up in music, it seems to me that it tends to mean "very average". If people are excited about a song they don't usually refer to it as "solid", a term fans seemingly use to describe songs they really want to enjoy, but in reality are disappointed by. In all honesty if someone looks hard at these "solid" songs and really focuses they won't find much of interest. Thom Yorke's vocals often seem to just drag slowly over the period of each song without a chorus. About 80% of the album feels like what would have been filler on Radiohead's prime work. It baffles me how Radiohead can captivate fans and critics with songs like these while an unknown band would go nowhere with them.

At first listen, the album seems somewhat of a disappointment. "What happened to the cool riffs on Hail To the Thief or the splendid tight composition of OK Computer?" are questions I often here. Then after a couple listens something seems to click. There is a new found fondness of the album, as if it serves as some sort of "comfort zone". In Rainbows lush sound quality seems to seep into people's brain like a drug putting them into a trance. It seems to be quite a cozy album after the first few listens, but unfortunately tends to grow boring over time.

Another few listens after that "cozy" feeling I began to grow bored. I noticed that once you take away the ambience and effects the album is stripped bare. The percussion only serves as a light beat and nothing more. As for the guitar playing, it would bore most people to sleep. The guitar harmonies on OK Computer were so elaborate I find myself wondering "how lazy could Radiohead possibly be?" when it comes to this album. There is often only one guitar picking arpeggios over a couple chords in each song. Hardly any genius harmonizing there nor any other musical complexities for that matter.

All in all the album feels very unspired as if Radiohead has finally reached that point in their career where they think "what else is there left to do?" They still try to right songs, and fans still stick by their every movie, but the truth is there's just no inspiration. I really can't understand what there is to be found in this album. It only suffers and grows old with repeateded listening and I end up finding myself coming back to my first impression. Radiohead has lost their touch and it's time for them to try something new and progress. Of course, if compared to most of the other music floating around on the radio and MTV, this album is quite spectacular. Rarely do bands know how to really add texture to their music as Radiohead does. It's understandable how most people would not be used to these kind of vibes. Most of the songs move a couple minutes through a single section, though, and progress into nothing. I can only hope that in the future Radiohead spreads its wings and flies into some new territories.

My rating: 6.5/10

Fight Club | 3/5 |


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