Well… managed to get nine out of the ten songs of In Rainbows last night. And…
They’ve done it again! What? What did they do again?
Ten years ago, Radiohead released an album known as OK Computer. It is a concept album which deals with the themes of modern society, commercialism, alienation and a whole lot more. It is one of the greatest albums ever made. It ranks right up there with Led Zeppelin IV, Sgt, Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club, Thick As A Brick and perhaps even beats Dark Side Of The Moon!(Pink Floyd was dealing with the same theme, but Radiohead did it better).
This album won them tremendous critical acclaim and a Grammy nomination for Album Of The Year (which they didn’t win because the damn Academy doesn’t know a damn thing about music). OK Computer and it’s predecessor, The Bends became the twin towers of Alternative Rock in the ’90s. Oasis, Coldplay and most other bands that have come since then are entrenched in the shadow of these two albums. (Coldplay’s Parachutes sometimes looks like a The Bends Tribute Album)
Radiohead got tired of the fucking attention and three years later, came out with Kid A and nine months after that, Amnesiac. Guitars were dead. This was no longer Rock. They transcended into a state of complex experimental+electronic+alternative super-rock. Kid A was hated by many, but others regard it as Radiohead’s finest work. As The Batra Being said, “No-one understood Kid A before they hear it for the twentieth time.”
In Rainbows is somewhat similar. If their last album, 2003’s Hail To The Thief, was a mix of The Bends and Kid A, then In Rainbows is OK Computer+Amnesiac but with one vital difference. They forgot to bring their instruments to the recording studio and have made music with whatever was lying around.
Thom Yorke warned us that, “This album is embarrassingly minimalistic”. He was right. For a five-member band, the music sounds as if it doesn’t need more than two people to play live. Again, I cannot play any instrument, so I could be wrong.
The first song, 15 Steps is my current favorite in the album. The synthesizer+percussion start and the sudden usage of all kinds of weird instruments (Ondes Martenot? Bass Guitar?) at random moments coupled with Thom Yorke getting bugged of singing and just saying “Et Cetera, Et Cetera/Fast Forward”. The song ends with some TV-style paranoid music. This is easily Radiohead’s most soft album ever. Mellow is the first word that comes to mind to describe In Rainbows, it’s mellow, soft, kinda jumpy here and there but on the whole, not very loud.
The lyrics are intelligent as usual and I haven’t heard them enough to explain them all. The theme of love exists, as does climate change (no surprise there) and Jethro Tull-esque mocking of pseudo-intellectuals.
This is NOT a rock album. ‘All I Need’ starts like a Moby or Chemical Brothers song as opposed to something that features guitars, bass and eight-piece drums. ‘Faust Arp’ is strange in it’s usage of acoustic guitar and a classic violins with Thom singing as if he’s reading a child a bedtime story. ‘Reckoner’, on the other hand, is an amazing bit of electronic experimental rock that starts off like a Brian Eno song or something U2 forgot to add in Zooropa with Thom hitting a falsetto that left me agape. Or is it? ‘House of Cards’ starts like ‘Don’t Panic’ and features the kind of music you would expect to hear in a mid-’90s U2 song, but there you are! The fact is you cannot classify Radiohead into any genre.
I would say that In Rainbows is an acquired taste. You may or not like it and whether or not you liked Radiohead’s previous work will make little or no difference.
My first impression score is: 3.75 on 5.