Vol. 2, Issue #20 October 26th - November 8th, 2007

CD Review: Radiohead -- In Rainbows
By: Graham Lee Brewer

Earlier this month, rock legends Radiohead released their new album In Rainbows. Now, that statement right there is enough to get just about any music fan’s jollies off, but the most exciting part about the release is the fact that the band is giving it to you for whatever price you see fit to pay. By simply going to inrainbows.com and naming your price, you can download the new album. I paid £5 for it and, from what I’ve read, the average going price is £8.

Their last few albums have been built on the idea of shattering the staples of the last, in a constant search for new ground. With this album, the band’s seventh, Radiohead seems to have finally grown tired of reinventing themselves and found the comfort of a particular sound. Don’t let the idea that this album has taken comfort in the solace of the styles of albums like OK Computer and Hail to the Thief, because it is anything but a downshift.

The songs are the most accessible and smartly structured they have been in years, with organic drumming, steady guitar rhythms, graceful melodies and less electronic nuances. I think a lot of this cohesiveness can be attributed to the way the album feels more like a collective effort than their previous work. Many Radiohead albums have been characterized by the way one particular member dominates the soundscape. In Rainbows screams group dynamics.
The album also swells with the soft influence of bands like The Beatles, REM and the inevitable maturity that comes with the knowledge that the whole world is listening. Delicate, sweeping string arrangements, softly reverberating piano and smooth bass lines fill the album, creating a reflective, often darkly retrospective tone.

One of the aspects that make this album interesting is the finalized recording of longtime fan favorites “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi’ and “Nude.” Radiohead have been playing “Nude” live for years, and even though it has changed quite a bit since its conception, it sounds amazing.

After swirling about and exploring the beauties and untouched resources of the musical landscape, Radiohead have finally decided to return home and begin life as a fully formed entity. At first glance, the thought of Radiohead settling down into a distinct style is something that would undoubtedly scare the shit out of hardcore fans, but In Rainbows shows us that is nothing to fear. They have eased back after Hail to the Thief’s arguably over-bearing complexity and taken the same style and crafted something more comfortable and familiar. Those are definitely descriptions I didn’t expect to incorporate into a Radiohead album review, but oddly enough, I’m grateful to do so.

NONzine Reviews Main Page

©2006-2007 NONCO Media, L.L.C.