Radiohead - In Rainbows
- Mark Robertson
- 18 October 2007
So you’ve registered, paid what you thought your download might be worth (in our case £3.03 plus 45p admin fee – who are you calling cheap?), downloaded, burned, copied it and generally stuck it to ‘The Man’ in no uncertain terms. What, you wonder, does it sound like? Well, erm . . . Radiohead.
In Rainbows is no The Bends, OK Computer or even Kid A. And that’s what makes it great. Radiohead have managed to avoid many of the traditional pitfalls afforded to rock bands who want to take their music on after achieving a degree of success. Radiohead don’t have to have orchestras, 15-minute wig outs or high concepts to evolve musically. On In Rainbows they refine their musical palette, drawing more confidently on other textures than the well-intentioned, if self-conscious, electronic grumps of Kid A. While 2005’s Hail to the Thief contained some fine songs, this is a fine album, coherent, cogent and consistent.
There is an understated elegance that is never sacrificed in the name of sonic experimentalism. It bubbles, sways and even momentarily rocks through ‘15 Steps’, ‘Bodysnatchers’ and ‘Jigsaw Falling into Place’, songs that can all comfortably take their place among their bulging battery of truly tremendous songs. This is the first record in ten years that Radiohead have made that manages to secure a reliable balance between studio style and musical substance. Phil Selway engages in round of dub riddims while Thom Yorke comes over all Barry White (well, as Barry White as Thom Yorke can) on ‘House of Cards’ while ‘Faust ARP’ is 129 seconds of featherlight, syncopated acoustic brilliance. Closer ‘Videotape’ borrows quietly from Mogwai but refuses to give us their typical money shot, and lumbers off moodily into the horizon.
The hope is that the unconventional delivery method of this album will become a lesser concern, and over time, the songs, which are for the most part magnificent, are what really stick.