A sigh of relief has come over me; the new Radiohead album is engaging. I can sleep again. Alright, so I wasn't that worked up but I was slightly concerned about the band's great track record being tarnished by the release of an inferior piece of music. Musical reputations are incredibly fragile. A decade of awesome music can be toppled like a house of cards with the release of a single flop (unless of course, it's Pablo Honey).
In Rainbows has taken tried and true Radiohead dynamics and reinvented them as seen fit. Acoustic minimalism accompanied by elaborate orchestral backings... Is this possible? Radiohead makes it so! If any one musical entity were able to combine lo-fi and hi-fi into a single mid-fi-ish mix it's Radiohead. Truly a fine wine that gets better with age; Radiohead are developing subtle tastes and nuances in flavor. Flavors of the past had put experimentation up front as the robust bitter flavor that coats the tongue and throat with pop being the after taste. Years of studio aging have reversed the taste; bringing the pop elements to the front and pushing the experimental flavors to the back of the palate.
In a lot of ways In Rainbows has only reaffirmed my previous assumptions as to what their new release should have sounded like. Radiohead fans are demanding; and for the most part, I think it's safe to say that anyone that's followed their music over the years has developed their own expectations of this band. And yet, somehow they've delivered to my ear drums what I'd expected without sounding predictable in the slightest bit. This is an album with a surprise factor unique unto itself. By already assuming that the album is going to be good (being the Radiohead fan that I am) and then having it turn out to be great has a lot to do with this feeling of contented splendor.
The implementation of mechanical percussion is abundant throughout the album. There have been a few moments in which I've found myself wondering where Phil is and what he's doing. The bass lines are still perfect. Collin knows how to deliver just the right amount of bass without coming up short or going too far. He seems to know exactly what a song needs without trying to steal the spotlight. The blend of grungy guitars and background vocal chants are soothing to the psyche. It's one of those albums that can be listened to directly or simply played in the background. I just wish the album wasn't so short; It's over before you know it.
On that note, buying an album at my own price is a first for me. I know there are critics out there talking shit about how Radiohead won't make any money by marketing their album this way. Those critics can eat a dick all day because Radiohead has essentially eliminated nearly every middleman in the music industry; by weeding out these unnecessary old relics of music's past new methods of delivery are possible.
Release date: October 10, 2007
Rating: 8.0 / 10
On the web: http://www.inrainbows.com
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