Thursday, October 18, 2007

In Rainbows - The Radio Cure Review

One week after its abrupt release, I found it apt to review Radiohead's latest masterpiece, In Rainbows.
1. 15 Step: My favorite track from their Bonnaroo show, 15 Step is notably the only track that makes heavy use of the disjointed computer beats of the previous three albums. It stands out from their earlier material however with a jumpy little guitar line that flows throughout. Key Line: "Won't take my eyes off the ball again/You reel me out then you cut the string."
2. Bodysnatchers: Hailed as "the rock song", "Bodysnatchers" is full of distorted guitar and Thom Yorke wails. I read one review that called this track a sort of sequel to Kid A's "National Anthem", but I view it more as a rebuttal to "Creep," another song about feeling displaced that the band has somewhat disowned.
3. Nude: An older, mellow, hypnotic track, "Nude" is one of the first songs to suck you in to the brilliance of In Rainbows in your first listen. Bringing his voice to the highest key it seems to reach, Yorke is at his most soulful. For die-hard fans, this song was worth the wait.
4. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi: This is not only my favorite track on the album, but also the most layered. With dueling guitar lines over Phil Selway's steady drumming and under Yorke's echoing voice, this song builds to a crescendo of escapism before rolling to a halt. This song parallels some of the best total songwriting of the last 20 years, with each member of the band distinctly heard.
5. All I Need: A somber, dark love song, "All I Need" seems to be the anthem for discontent lovers, but builds to an explosion of noise and light that suddenly takes the song to new heights and adds a bright, optimistic ending.
6. Faust Arp: The only mystery track for eager fans, this is the second closest Radiohead has come to mimicking The Beatles (#1- listen to the beginning of "Wolf at the Door" and then The Beatle's "She's So Heavy"). A softy ditty that recalls The White Album's "Julia", but with strings and distrust.
7. Reckoner: Another old track, "Reckoner" seems to remind us that Phil Selway is still an important part of the band. His echoing, jangly drumming provides the base for Thom's falsetto, soulful singing and soft piano and a chilled out guitar riff. If any other artist had played this song, it might have been a generic Top 40 hit, but again, the Radiohead touch keeps it uniquely beautiful, especially in it's warm climax.
8. House of Cards: This track is gorgeous. Another mellow, laid back track, "House of Cards" sounds like the love song of the couple that's been stuck in a rut, ready to break free. I will always associate this song with its performance at Bonnaroo, in which fans started throwing glow sticks around in the darkness. When they started landing on stage, a smiling Thom playfully threw them back. It seems symbolic of the position Radiohead is in now: content.
9. Jigsaw Falls Into Place: I find this track the most aggressive on the album, though I've heard it described as just being loose. Listening to it, you get the feeling of running away, like the band is driving at something. Unlike "Bodysnatchers" which is a direct rock song, "Jigsaw Falls Into Place" seems to be the confused cousin of Amnesiac's "Knives Out."
10. Videotape: Prior to the release of the album, this track had two incarnations. One had the whole band building it to a dramatic, sweeping climax, while the other was a haunting version with only Thom at a piano. The version that made the album finds some middle ground with the slow piano being coupled with small drum bursts. The result is the most haunting album closer Radiohead has ever used.

OVERALL: In Rainbows has been said to show a return to the more guitar driven music of the OK Computer era. I see it a bit differently. This album represents less Radiohead's return to an old era than it does the start of a new one. The band has already rewritten the book on rock music, and here again, they have showed themselves to be true innovators. Though it isn't as weird or experimental as the last four albums, there isn't anything else out today that is remotely close. Only time will tell if this becomes my favorite Radiohead album or not, but it looks like it might be.

1 comment:

muddle said...

honestly the best review of the album i've read. better than pitchforks if you ask me, more concise and too the point, also realistic. I like your radio show as well (when I get a chance to listen).

cody baldwin