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Radiohead - In Rainbows

Since the (apparent) surprise of 'Kid A', New Radiohead albums are approached with a very cautious form of overexcitement. This time it has been heightened further by the unique way it has been released (twice, essentially). It allowed for not only speculation on the music, but on the impact of what such an independent release will do to the record industry and in general cause even those without beards to have a good contemplative chin-stroke at all the questions raised. Of course, the biggest being – “how much did you pay?”

Like 'Hail To The Thief' before it, 'In Rainbows' is an even more skilful melding and advancement of the guitar-based alternative of their earlier work with the low, rumbling electronic of 'Kid A'/'Amnesiac' and the haunting layers of 'OK Computer', all strengthened by the haunting alienation that has (ironically?) won them so many fans. It constantly recaptures the essence of their past; Bodysnatchers could nestle alongside Planet Telex as easily as it could I Could Be Wrong. And the excellent Nude (which has itself been around over ten years) recalls the better B-sides such as Fog.

But this isnt a work of nostalgia, its just proof that Radiohead are in a genre of one, refining and progressing their sound to make it different but still very much their own – witness, for instance, the skittering percussion of Weird Fishes/Apreggi as it flows from bleak to uplifting so smoothly, youll barely notice the shift. And then theres album highlight All I Need – underlaid with a warped bass-effect, its calm lyrics, glock and keys are so gentle you are not in the least prepared for the HUGE climax. Its the kind of musical class most bands dream of achieving, and just one reason why Radiohead are one of the finest acts this country has to offer.

Strong words, but Radiohead cause such reactions, and while 'In Rainbows' is no better than 'Hail To The Thief', its no worse – as it is no worse than any of their albums. Everything they do is original and exciting, which is why they cause such bold statements, and why no matter how much you paid for 'In Rainbows', Radiohead will remain priceless.Phillip May

Released 1 Jan 1970 // // Rating:

****

/5
Radiohead - In Rainbows

Since the (apparent) surprise of 'Kid A', New Radiohead albums are approached with a very cautious form of overexcitement. This time it has been heightened further by the unique way it has been released (twice, essentially). It allowed for not only speculation on the music, but on the impact of what such an independent release will do to the record industry and in general cause even those without beards to have a good contemplative chin-stroke at all the questions raised. Of course, the biggest being – “how much did you pay?”

Like 'Hail To The Thief' before it, 'In Rainbows' is an even more skilful melding and advancement of the guitar-based alternative of their earlier work with the low, rumbling electronic of 'Kid A'/'Amnesiac' and the haunting layers of 'OK Computer', all strengthened by the haunting alienation that has (ironically?) won them so many fans. It constantly recaptures the essence of their past; Bodysnatchers could nestle alongside Planet Telex as easily as it could I Could Be Wrong. And the excellent Nude (which has itself been around over ten years) recalls the better B-sides such as Fog.

But this isnt a work of nostalgia, its just proof that Radiohead are in a genre of one, refining and progressing their sound to make it different but still very much their own – witness, for instance, the skittering percussion of Weird Fishes/Apreggi as it flows from bleak to uplifting so smoothly, youll barely notice the shift. And then theres album highlight All I Need – underlaid with a warped bass-effect, its calm lyrics, glock and keys are so gentle you are not in the least prepared for the HUGE climax. Its the kind of musical class most bands dream of achieving, and just one reason why Radiohead are one of the finest acts this country has to offer.

Strong words, but Radiohead cause such reactions, and while 'In Rainbows' is no better than 'Hail To The Thief', its no worse – as it is no worse than any of their albums. Everything they do is original and exciting, which is why they cause such bold statements, and why no matter how much you paid for 'In Rainbows', Radiohead will remain priceless.Phillip May