In Rainbows review by Radiohead

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  • Released: Oct 10, 2007
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.6 (280 votes)
Radiohead: In Rainbows
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Sound — 9
For the better part of the year, all has been relatively quiet on the Radiohead-front: some concert dates here, sporadic posts on 'Dead Air Space', but nothing really definitive or tangible with regards to the new album. Fans knew it was coming, the question was when. Then suddenly, the band dropped a bombshell: their new album was called In Rainbows and people would be able to download it. What's more, listeners could pay whatever they wanted for it, they could even pay nothing, and were still politely thanked for their custom! Consequently, Radiohead created a buzz within the music community of a kind which has not been seen in a good while. Critics and fans were praising the band for this stark approach, coining the move a proverbial and much-needed "kick in the pants" of the music industry, though much to Jonny Greenwood's denial. Now that the initial hype has subsided, it is important to see whether the music stands up to the hype. And the wonderful truth is that it does. What is immediate about In Rainbows is that the band sound comfortable, and surprisingly, happy. Though not a word not usually associated with Radiohead, happy is probably the best way of describing the album: the title even conjures a sense of warmth about it. Comfortable and happy, though, are not to be confused with casual or laid-back, because the album comes across as particularly consistent and focused. Hail to the Thief was not only praised by many critics for the return to a more guitar-based sound, but for what was felt to be a certain consistency though to be lacking (unfairly so) from the fractured Amnesiac. The problem with Hail to the Thief, though, is at times the band seemed like they were going through the motions. This is Radiohead we are talking about, so for any regular band HTTT would seem like their magnum opus; however, in some places, the music seemed to take a back-seat to the politically-charged lyrics. In Rainbows, however, shows a band unafraid of their abilities. Another important feature is that the album is varied. Bodysnatchers stands as one of their most rocking tracks of recent years, featuring a driving modulated guitar riff, and an ending showcasing some Jonny Greenwood brilliance reminiscent of The Bends and OK Computer. All I Need is one of the most heartfelt and beautiful Radiohead songs in recent years, as is the long-awaited arrival of Nude. The standout Reckoner (which contains the title) combines the percussive-drive of There, There with the jazzy feel of Amnesiac, topping it all off with a dreamy string-arrangement. The electronic elements are still there, most notably on the upbeat 15 Step, though this time around these are combined with the ever-precise drumming of Phil Selway. Speaking of the bald but polite drummer, his presence is also more evident on In Rainbows. He gives a nod to drum and bass on All I Need providing a clever Amen-break, which serves not only to reveal his depth of musical awareness and knowledge, but it also gives the song a meditative drive. The lovely Weird Fishes/Arpeggi would also not be the same without his precise sense of rhythm. Closer Videotape is also one of the best tracks on In Rainbows. Such a track has the potential to be utterly ruined by some monumental build-up, but with Videotape it never comes: the band seem content to let the pretty piano-melody combine with Thom Yorke's beautiful falsetto, whilst allowing odd drum-machine rhythms to flow in and out of time. The result is something resembling something of a death-march, but with more a sense of contentment and happiness than sorrow.

Lyrics — 9
Lyrically, In Rainbows is something of a departure for what has come to be expected of Thom Yorke in recent years. Yes, he is still as paranoid as ever: after being picked over by the worms, we are told you reel me out and cut the string and I have no idea what you are talking about. Thom Yorke described the lyrics as scary, like OK Computer stuff, but much more terrifying; however, In Rainbows does not really explore feelings of alienation as deeply as did OK Computer. Generally, the lyrics are heartfelt and gone largely are the political fixations of Hail to the Thief, giving the album a varied emotional range. Though Yorke was intellectual and particularly apt in many of his political comments, this is Radiohead and not Rage Against the Machine, so a scaled-down political focus is more welcome. This time around there is even a few love songs: All I Need is one of the most intelligent songs of unrequited love, and House of Cards is as beautiful as the arrangement. Videotape portrays also very contented Yorke, and it really does seem like the most perfect day ever seen for a man so often associated with what some call depressive teenage boy lyrics. As always, Thom Yorke gives a standout vocal performance. If anything, he has improved vocally on each album since OK Computer.

Overall Impression — 10
In Rainbows is a great album from Radiohead. Though not the genre-smashing experimental work that has come to be expected from the band in recent years, it is a solid release nonetheless, showing a band in their prime and comfortable with their creative ability. During the tour for OK Computer, Thom Yorke expressed disdain for American alternative radio, commenting that it had a sound akin to a buzzing fridge. So I guess you are probably wondering whether the media circus surrounding In Rainbows simply disguised the fridge-buzz like sound that Yorke himself criticised. If you are one those people who will complain about the poor sound quality of the 160kps mp3-files, then you might well think this. If not, then you will definitely love this album.

42 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Slashrulz
    i think this is the best radiohead cd yet, it doesnt have extra good tracks like paranoid android or rue love waits etc... but the album it self its perfect...
    Callo
    one of there best albums in my opinion, in a few years i think this will be up there with the likes of ok computer and the bends, but its too early to tell now. Go Radiohead!
    ithinkfloyd
    If someone asked me what my favourite songs were, there wouldn't be much Radiohead. But when someone asks me my favourite albums, Radiohead rules that list. I think they should've waited until the rest of the album comes out to give the review. Disc One is awesome though. I haven't listened to all that much other music since it came out until Sigur Ros released Hvarf-Heim. About there not being a weak track, I think that Videotape is weaker than the rest on the album. The live version is amazing. The album version is too... I don't know how to describe it. I don't like the drums in it all that much. I think they should release a version more like the live version for the physical release of the album.
    pigmaggots
    God's Guitarist wrote: first review is well writtenn
    It is, the line about music not being worth buying was abit lame though.
    FlambeauX
    It seems pretty awesome, I want to check it out. What sucks is that a lot of people didnt pay anything for the album, I mean I still think music is worth something.
    A Poe
    I really enjoyed this album. It was a bit different when i listend to it the first time but the more i listen to it the more i like it. I really like Thoms lyrics in this one too. This album is perfect to trip acid to also. Its got a real subtle, relaxing, and emotional feel to it. I love it is i love all their albums equally. I cant wait tell the cd itself goes on sale though. I know some people say they dont like how head got so computerized with their tunes but i think its sweet too. Hail to the thief hits hard as Phuck with some subwoofers, especially The Gloaming.
    grnday1236
    this album is so amazing. i mean, yea i like ok computer and the bends more, but this album is definetly nothing short of excellent.
    soundgardenfan
    one of thier best there isn't a track that i didn't like Can't wait for my bonus disc and the vinyls to come
    MadGoat
    Meh to be honest I was disappointed. Certainly doesn't rank as good as The Bends and OK Computer for me.
    acjshapiro
    Vrstone87 wrote: meh, I've listened to every radiohead album and honestly don't get what everyone loves about them.....
    cause you're ****ing stupid
    Deepkanwal
    Great album, I didn't like it at first but it really grew on me. My favourite Radiohead album is still Hail to the Thief but I was really impressed with In Rainbows.
    BennyStruggle
    What is the need for 7 reviews that all rate it 9/10 or better? This is the prime example of why UG reviews are pointless. If I wanted to read 7 different 13 year olds telling me how great Radioheads new album is I'd go hang around my little brother and his friends. Thanks for a big waste of time. One review was all we needed. One review that said 9/10. k thx bye
    StringsofBlack
    Actually I was the unregistered one that gave it 8.3/10. Also Im 21 years old, so definitely not 13 which you said. Lol i think you might want to rethink your opinion before you speak next time....
    BennyStruggle wrote: What is the need for 7 reviews that all rate it 9/10 or better? This is the prime example of why UG reviews are pointless. If I wanted to read 7 different 13 year olds telling me how great Radioheads new album is I'd go hang around my little brother and his friends. Thanks for a big waste of time. One review was all we needed. One review that said 9/10. k thx bye
    TrippyLantern
    I'm the guy who wrote the first review. I'm 18...I didn't even know that 13 years olds knew what Radiohead was.I may have give it 9.7/10 but it looks like people who thought the album wasn't that good are too apathetic to write their reviews.
    libertine1989
    BennyStruggle : What is the need for 7 reviews that all rate it 9/10 or better? This is the prime example of why UG reviews are pointless. If I wanted to read 7 different 13 year olds telling me how great Radioheads new album is I'd go hang around my little brother and his friends. Thanks for a big waste of time. One review was all we needed. One review that said 9/10. k thx bye
    myself and probably the other reviewers sent in the review a good few weeks ago and they were all published together so we didnt know there were other reviews. its a 9 and above 7 times over cos its that good. if you don't like it don't read them, simple as that.
    Morgy
    This is actually my favourite Radiohead album. Absolutely amazing, start to finish.
    acjshapiro
    Vrstone87 wrote: meh, I've listened to every radiohead album and honestly don't get what everyone loves about them.....
    my god you are so ****ing stupid
    godspeed513
    ive only heard this album, ok comp, and some of hail to the theif. this review, however, basically hit the nail on the head.the album does sound stripped down and more basic than the past ones (at least the ones ive heard). its a very interesting cd definately worth getting whether you buy it or not.
    food&liquor
    acjshapiro wrote: Vrstone87 wrote: meh, I've listened to every radiohead album and honestly don't get what everyone loves about them..... my god you are so ****ing stupid
    all he did was voice his opinion mate. so what if he doesnt like the band that you love? doesnt mean hes stupid, not at all. im not arguing just to annoy you either, its just uncalled for when people call others stupid for not sharing the same taste in art. because music is art, and all art is subjectible (sp?) to opinion right.
    somethingwitty
    i have only listened to this album once but i feel like the left something to be desired? Maybe it just me but i am gonna go listen to it again..
    food&liquor
    OK Computer is still my favourite Radiohead album but In Rainbows comes in at a close second; even beating out The Bends (4th is Kid A for anyone who cares hehe). My favourite song off it keeps changing, right now it's Nude, good song! Excellent album indeed, Radiohead are freaking awesome
    Paul Lambeth
    jiminizzle wrote: Thom Yorke wrote: Jigsaw Falling Into Place and Bodysnatchers are the first two singles to be released. I can't wait. Beautiful music. Are you the real Thom Yorke??
    Haha. Thom doesn't regularly play bass, as this guy's profile implies. As to the above - Reviews about Radiohead are going to be by Radiohead fans, and real Radiohead fans progress like Radiohead do, and will naturally write a good review about a brilliant album. It's true with a lot of bands unless they obviously release a weak album compared to others.
    benjidude945
    better than OK Computer? Yes, in some ways But I honestly still hold their 90's work on a slightly higher regard than their 2000 and on work. their 90's stuff is easy and great to listen to. But their new millenium work stretches the boundaries of music and is revolutionary.
    libertine1989
    This song is the exact opposite of the rest of the cd, almost as if to say, "We are not this anymore, now watch as we transform before your eyes."
    lol
    Jk3y
    radiohead are simply awesome with their unique sound...however, i miss the ok computer sound, they're trying to explore new sounds and set them apart from everyone else...but really you just want a rockin guitar based radiohead album, besides, they made that sound, if anyone should change their style, it should be the bands copying them...also if anyone mentions muse, leave them alone...they are nothing alike and they're both brilliant!
    Vrstone87
    Mmm.....the lack of complexity leaves something to be desired. Good can be defined many ways, sure they may have a relaxed easy on the ears sound but that shouldn't be what defines them as awesome.
    scottybeans
    Vrstone87 wrote: meh, I've listened to every radiohead album and honestly don't get what everyone loves about them.....
    they sound good whats not to like
    SMoD
    Radiohead has done it again. What a great album! Keep on making great music guys.
    babyslapmafro
    Thom Yorke wrote: Jigsaw Falling Into Place and Bodysnatchers are the first two singles to be released.
    uhh is that thom yorke
    Vrstone87
    meh, I've listened to every radiohead album and honestly don't get what everyone loves about them.....
    insurgentsteve
    the bends >> in rainbows ok computer > in rainbows kid a < in rainbows How can you say this album delivers the same punch as ok computer? That's so not true. It's still good though, maybe it'll grow on me after a while, but still ok computer is so much richer in sound and emotion. IMO
    wanderinghippie
    This album is eqaul in qaulity to Ok Computer and Kid A. The music is beautiful. In Rainbows is not about singles or songs that stand alone....but as an album it is a complete piece of brilliance.
    jiminizzle
    Thom Yorke wrote: Jigsaw Falling Into Place and Bodysnatchers are the first two singles to be released.
    I can't wait. Beautiful music. Are you the real Thom Yorke??
    IMABBALLPLAYER
    It was pretty good. It's an album I can't listen to a lot though just because I don't want to get bored of the songs. I liked The Bends a lot more. But this is still a good album.
    Nathan_393
    I was disappointed. Music didn't sit as right with me as their old stuff. Good attempt though; still better than 95% of the other crap out there.
    Thom Yorke
    Jigsaw Falling Into Place and Bodysnatchers are the first two singles to be released.
    God's Guitarist
    digging this album. first review is well written (at least for the part i read as it was too long for my impatient mind). i find this album more accessible than their previous work but i am by no means a big radiohead fan
    aaronb
    (In Rainbows) I think main difference in its success thus far is fact that it has been about ten years since the lads have put out a pop record. Hence why the media is all over it. General public can't relate to something less melodic. Its just a much easier listen for a wider audience.