I don’t often publish music reviews on this blog, because there are other people who write better and have better opinions. I’m going to make an exception for Radiohead’s In Rainbows. Like a proper sucker, I went for the extortionate 40 quid box set, which will be my Christmas present to myself. In the meantime I will be able to listen to the new album download unmediated by cover art. (I don’t know why, but cover art does somehow affect the way I listen to an album.) Because of the surprisingly quick release following its completion – the band don’t need label’s marketing department to cause delays – I was also able to listen without having read a single review. So I downloaded the album at work, plugged in my earphones and here’s what happened…
Listen 1: Hmmm. Sounds a bit tinny.
Listen 2: Ah, needed to shove those earphones further in for the bass. Actually, this isn’t so bad after all. Still not blown away; wondering if this’ll be grower.
Listen 3: Speakers at home. Blown away. Now I read a couple of 5 star reviews.
Listen 4: No music player required, 15 Step’s guitar riff is now on permanent loop in my head.
Listen 5: Nude is achingly beautiful. Throughout the album are the kind of accessible, universal lyrics which helped to make The Bends and OK Computer so successful. The electronics are as abundant as the last three records, with woozy synths and microtonal melody. They still make time to let their hair down with crunchy guitars on Bodysnatcher. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi feels like listening to Let Down with your head dunked underwater. As Paul pointed out, Pink Floyd are heavily in evidence, for me particularly on All I Need. Faust Arp has a guitar riff lifted from Dear Prudence over a CSNY string arrangement. Thom does a Bono impression on Reckoner. House of Cards could have been written by My Morning Jacket, with a lyric strongly reminiscent of the Spice Girls. Videotape wraps the album up in much the same way as The Tourist concluded OK Computer.
In Rainbows doesn’t have the iconic quality of OK Computer, but perhaps the unusual distribution method will draw many of the people who were put off by Kid A to give Radiohead another try.
Not bad for an unsigned band.