Monday, October 15, 2007

You asked for it...

In my last post I mentioned that I recently received the newest release from Radiohead. I had a couple of requests for reviews of the album... Well with the twitch of my nose, and a few swift keystrokes from my fingers, ABRACADABRA! ALAKAZAM! Your wish is granted. Congrats.

I could take the lazy man's approach and merely repost other people's reviews of the album, but I love you, (and Radiohead,) too much to leave it at that.

I will start off by noting that this album, like previous Radiohead releases, has all the band's hallmarks. But it is decidedly different at the same time... There is a little bit of techno-synth, but not in the high doses you may have come to expect. Instead, they've ramped up the mournfully bluesy guitar riffs and delicate piano playing, and used the techno-tones much more sparingly. Of course you still get Thom Yorke's oftentimes almost eerily simple and bare vocals and the full spectrum of lush musical accompaniment sometimes running the gamut and eventually paring down to ultra-simplified vocal track laid over a simple drum beat.

You also get an interesting mix of upbeat and slower tracks that you should expect as a Radiohead fan. Never a band to issue a predictable album "In Rainbows" opens with some very up tempo numbers, then they scale it back with a couple of slower tracks. They keep you guessing by toying with the tempo on the fourth track "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi." You find yourself wanting to pay just a little closer attention to catch the changes in beat over the course of this undulating, yet totally cohesive track.

At this point, I would like to note that my brother was totally right when he handed me my copy of the disk. Track five, "All I Need" is decidedly the black-widow-style-killer track. It is one of those tracks which insidiously gets into your psyche, tells you that it loves you, makes you believe it, and then totally ends you before you even know what's going on! You're going to find yourself with this track on single-track repeat for a while... I promise you.

The middle tracks of the album slow things down, but headed into the final tracks things speed up somewhat on "Jigsaw falling into place" with simple vocals over a toe-tapping beat that ropes in and refocuses your attention all over again. And the final track "Videotape" keeps it simple with a slower beat, pared down instrumentation, and soft vocals, cleansing the musical palate, leaving you with a satiated sense of completion.

On the whole, "In Rainbows" as an album is a rib-sticking meal of an album, comprised of tunes both intense and delicate, both sweet and savory. The only complaint I would lodge with the house on this one is that after going so long without hearing from Radiohead, this album, at ten tracks which clock in at just over 42 minutes, while satisfying, just made me wish there was more left on the table so that I could gorge myself with more. But that's why you just put it on album-repeat and let it keep on spinning after the first listen... You just want to have more.

In all, I think the album adheres to the Nick Hornby/Rob Gordon (High Fidelity) maxim of album composition... "The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don't wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules..."

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Check it out for yourself, download it for whatever price you're willing to pay at You won't regret taking the time to give this worthy album a good listen.

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