Sound — 10
This is it. The album that has caused so much controversy, with it's "Pay What You Want" premise. Thanks to the time difference I got my copy at around 4pm after paying the low low price of 0 pounds for it (I'm broke and I'm getting the discbox for X-mas, so don't hassle me about it). So, I've gotten quite a few listens in this past 18 hours and not that much sleep(midterms aren't that hard, are they) In Rainbows, has been long awaited by Radiohead fans for the past four and a half years and up until 10 days ago, we all thought it wasn't coming out until March. Lucky us! Radiohead, is one of the only modern major-label bands to release an album without a label, so they have complete creative control and no deadlines. What has come out of this can only be described as Radiohead. This album is pure Radiohead. The mellow, cryptic, electronic, progressive-but-they-don't-like-to-be-called-that band we fans adore. Thom Yorke has said this albums is "almost embarassingly minimal" and he's almost right. It's like someone took every Radiohead album, put them in a blender and ran it through a strainer. It's minimalistic but in every good sense of the world. Like with all records I own, I listen to the record at least three time before I make my mind up about it and I've definitely listened to this album more than three times, so I have a pretty good idea about In Rainbows. This is a must with Radiohead records because you get something completely different out of each listen. I recommend this before you label this album as anything, good or bad. 01. 15 Step - this song caught me quite off guard. It's Radiohead but it isn't. There's this hip-hop-esque synth beat throughout the song but it evolves into a Amnesiac/Hail to the Thief progression and Thom is just rockin' along to it. Then the guitar, bass and drum come in and that's when the song comes alive. My favourite part is when Thom sing "etcetera etcetera" and then the bass follow in. 02. Bodysnatchers - bass intro, sweet. This song gets down to business right away. This song reminds me of the Pablo Honey days but it has the charm of the the more recent experimental releases. The bass has to be the best part of this song and you'll want to tap your toe along to it's groove. 03. Nude - this song has been floating around since the OK Computer days and a couple seconds into the song you'll know why they waited a decade to release it. I always love sons that float around for a couple years before they're released because the end result is usually nothing short of amazing and Nude is another great example of this. The song begins with Thom singing his beautiful falsetto and some backwards parts compliment his voice. Then the rest of the song is mostly Thom and the rhythm section. The guitars make their appearance but even they kinda act like rhythm instruments, complimenting the bass and drums. 04. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi - a live fan favourite for the past couple years and with very good reason. This song has translated very well to the studio. Very mellow track that has a very lively beat. This song is abundant with synth like the last three albums and since it's done in stereo, the effect is very pleasant and unlike some of the tracks from Kid A/Amnesiac, it isn't overwhelming at all, not even to the first time listener. 05. All I Need - another bass intro, but with synth! Simple track with what appears to be a glockenspiel or metalophone in the backround. The chorus is quite catchy and I think if Radiohead wanted to release a single from this album, this song would probably do best chart-wise. But they've never cared about how popular their singles are. Tis why I love Radiohead, they always find a way to stick it to the man. 06. Faust Arp - an acoustic track accompanied by a string quartet. An absolutely beautiful song. I have no idea what Faust Arp is but it is a song that will never cease to send shivers down my spine. 07. Reckoner - this song is driven by cymbals and very high vocals. I'm not sure if Thom is singing in falsetto or not or whether he is harmonizing with himself in falsetto. Either way he is singing really high and it sounds great. The strings return for certain parts but they're not as centric as they were in Faust Arp. It's not the strongest track on the album but it's a lot better than some of the crap that's on the radio these days. 08. House Of Cards - this track is a little more guitar driven than any of the previous tracks and they're is a delay effect that kind of acts as a constant rhythm for the track that plays around with the drums and bass. The instruments each stand out in this track but they work well together, which seems to be a constant throughout In Rainbows. 09. Jigsaw Falling Into Place - acoustic guitar and heavy bass, how can you go wrong? Well, if it's a Radiohead song, you can't. Thom's vocals go from a slow drone to a high belt, which he does to great affect. A very catchy tune. The melody is already stuck in my head and I'm more than happy to give it a permanent home in my cerebellum. 10. Videotape - I bet you thought that the video of Thom in the studio wouldn't translate to studio. I know I was worried, when I saw how awesome his performance was, but my worries have been to lain to rest. The vocals are much clearer in this version and I can hear the words and the emotion more clearly. There is a rhythm with a quick attack and decay and almost no sustain and it acts as a counter to the piano. It may seem out of place on the firt listen but you soon come to realize that it belongs there and it compliments the piano beautifully.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics range from the weird cryptic lyrics that we Radiohead fans spend hours trying to decipher when we should be doing other things (ex. studying, feeding the dog, putting out the fire in the kitchen) to the simplistic, like All I Need: "all I need is you, all I need is you" and House of Cards: "I don't want to be your friend I want to be your lover." The lyrics compliment the music and vice versa. It's just a wonder how the music and the lyrics capture each other so well. It's the reason why Radiohead continues to sell tonnes of records. Thom's voice is as mellow as always and Ed provide excellent harmonies. The harmonies on the record are not only more abundant but they will blow your mind if you take the time to search for them.
Overall Impression — 10
Like I said, this album is a compilation of all Radiohead has done before but it's been stripped down to great effect. All the instruments, rhythms, and computers stand out but they blend nicely. Like all Radiohead albums, this record takes a couple listens all the way through with your complete and undivided attention to understand. This is the beauty that is Radiohead, it filters out the people who have the attention span of a goldfish and can't be bothered to listen to one track all the way through. The rewards will be grand for anybody who listens to this album a couple times. It gets better each time and I'm sure it will have a permanent place in my top 20 albums that I keep in the car with me for long trips. I will be reviewing the discbox when I get it, so look out for that. On a final note, don't be cheap like me unless you're getting the discbox. I recommend a price of 5 pounds (10 bucks Canadian and American and about 7.5 Euro) as a minimum if you just want the download now. Or you can wait until you get the hard copy in December.