Thursday, October 11, 2007

Album Review: In Rainbows

After a long wait of 10 days, I am back listening to Radiohead, and in particular the new album In Rainbows. Live versions of most of the songs have been kicking around for the past year or so as the band "road-tested" many of the new songs last year. And then some of the songs have been around for quite a long time, like "Nude" which is from the OK Computer era ten years ago.Even though bootlegs and youtube videos of these songs were online I tried not to watch/listen to any of the new songs. I was able to do this with the exception of Nude, Videotape, and Reckoner.
As you probably know the album was released online yesterday by the band on their website. This was neat since it meant that everybody essentially got to listen the album for the first time at the same time. In the day and age of leaks this is quite the accomplishment. Early estimates are they sold around 1.2 million copies of the album yesterday.
Usually I don't do an album review for a few weeks after getting an album, but I've already listened to this one at least 10 times so it is review ready. This album is not the best one they have ever made, and it is not better than Kid A in opinion. Things that stand out to me are just the amount of time and production put into the album, just listen to it with headphones and you'll see what I'm saying. Thom's voice is suprisingly good all throughout the album. The use of the Ondes Martenot, strings, and other instruments really give this album a unique feel. All the songs have a certain beauty to them. Also unlike Hail to the Theif, this sounds/feels like an album as opposed to a collection of great songs.

And now to the track by track review.

15 Step
Right from the opening beats of the song you know that this is not going to be a boring record. Their classic electronic sound is cut into by Jonny's guitar to give it a jazzy feel. With a title like 15 step you would think it is a song you would want to dance to, and that is exactly what this song is. My favourite part of the song is what sounds like little kids cheering around the 1:01 mark.

The beginning of the song reminds me of a sped up version of Palo Alto. The highlight of the song is definitely Jonny Greenwood's playing of the Ondes Martenot which gives the song a really haunting sound. Also his guitar in this song is exceptional, the whole band is working together in fine form. This is the first song where I really noticed how good Thom's voice still is. If the band were releasing singles off this album, this would be one for sure.

The long awaited fan favourite. They do a great job with this one, it definitely will satisfy those fans who have been waiting ten years for a studio release of the track. I prefer the older version with the organ at the end to this version. This song has some of my favourite lyrics from any of their tracks. When Thom sings the line " You'll go to hell for what your dirty mind is thinking" and holds the note at the end (2:58) , I get chills.

Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
My favourite song off the album after the first batch of listens. It has a nice drum beat throughout, and Jonny has some nice picking guitar. My favourite thing about the song though is the lyrics and just the images that enter my head as I listen to the song. Ed adds alot to the song with his backup vocals.

All I Need
A love song? Once again another song with beautiful lyrics. Colin's bass really stands out on this one. The song is nothing exceptional in my mind until the 2:46 mark when the piano really picks up and then the song just works into a Fix You style climatic sound.

Faust Arp
The big mystery song, the only song on the album that had never been heard before. It has a Beatles sound to it. The opening lyrics "Wakey wakey rise and shine" make it sound like its going to be a children's tale. But in the end it is just a good little song.

Pa Pa Paaa? Is this really Reckoner? I had only heard the "thrashy" version they played live which was a completely different song. Initially when I saw the track listings I was disappointed to see Reckoner on the album based on the live versions I had heard. This is a much calmer and emotional version, much better, and is slowly turning into my favourite. Very nice strings throughout. The first listen I was still expecting to hear the "Pa Pa Pa!".

House of Cards
This song has a very sexy jazzy feel to it. I don't usually describe Radiohead songs as sexy but this one definitely is. I think this is the song on the album that will slowly grow on me.

Jigsaw Falling Into Place
My favourite song title, and the actual song is pretty awesome too. Another track that blows my socks off, mostly because of the vocals, both Thom's bursting with emotion and Ed's background vocals.

To be honest I was slightly disappointed when I heard this song. Its still a great song but I think they could have kept it simpler. I had only heard the Thom Yorke solo version from the basement sessions which is simply amazing (and I blogged about it earlier this year). Still the perfect track to close of an excellent and beautiful album.

I give this album a 9/10

1 comment:

Tim said...

Thanks Jon, I'll pick this up on my way home today as well as the new Wintersleep CD