1. 15 Step
4. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
5. All I Need
6. Faust ARP
8. House of Cards
9. Jigsaw Falling Into Place
Radiohead is back. After 4 years of relative silence, they return with their 7th official studio album, “In Rainbows”. And they returned with confidence, musicality and perhaps their best work since the epic “OK Computer”. “In Rainbows” shows the best from all things that Radiohead has been excelling at for so many years. It is a compilation of what truly defines them musically.
Radiohead has been playing 15 Step live for quite awhile now and it has become a fan favorite. Many people wondered how this song would stand as a studio version, opposed to the live version. But with a skillful production and a more than perfect timing, Radiohead managed to create the right balance for this opening track.
Bodysnatchers is a song that really represents the album and defines Radiohead. It sounds like something that evolved out of the sound Radiohead created on “Hail To The Thief”. This song is uptempo and very energy-driven, and when played live Radiohead can go many different ways with it without losing it’s unique sound.
The album continues with the ballad Nude, which is yet another song that really defines Radiohead. Probably even more than Bodysnatchers does. Nude is actually an old song and was played live for the first time years ago. It has evolved somewhat over time, but in essence it’s still the same mournful yet elegant ballad it has always been. It shows the absolute supremacy of Thom Yorke’s vocals as well as how brilliant Radiohead is in creating an atmosphere for a song like no other band can.
With Arpeggi Radiohead stayed pretty true to the live version of this song that they’ve been playing. They took down the pace slightly and added a slight echo. Furthermore this song, though not one of the album’s strongest, is still better than 85% of what’s out there today.
All I Need is probably one of the most honest and more straight-forward songs in Radiohead’s history. It’s a symphonic and full song that one can really drown in. The lyrics are among the best I’ve seen, even by Radiohead. Great vocals and once again I point out the amazing ability Radiohead has to create a perfect atmosphere for a song. Perhaps a single?
Then the surprise of the album. I think it might be the only actual new song on “In Rainbows”. The acoustic Faust ARP is the most refreshing song on the album, and my personal favorite. Stripped down from all the excess material it is music down to its core. What it’s all about. With strings beautifully arranged alongside the acoustic fingerpicking and Thom’s vocals, this gives me a slightly late 60s/early 70s British Folk feel, like Nick Drake & Roy Harper but then ‘with a modern jacket on’.
Reckoner dates back from the “Kid A” days, and you can hear that. The song is however polished to a higher level. With a clear focus on Thom Yorke’s vocals and with a very clever arrangement of the music this song stands out on “In Rainbows”.
Then follows House of Cards, which has one of the better lyrics of the album, but musically it is one of the least powerful songs on the album. If Radiohead would’ve speeded up the song a little and stripped it down from its effects and added a subtle acoustic guitar and bongos (okay, I’m changing the whole song here) this thing could’ve been made to something more powerful and convincing. But for Radiohead’s standards, lets just say it’s not the best song they’ve ever released.
Radiohead didn’t change too much of Jigsaw Falling Into Place compared to its live version. And personally, I think that’s a good thing. It’s great alternative rock that Radiohead does better than almost any other band. This song shows why so many bands list Radiohead as their influence. The song itself isn’t even the most remarkable but it’s played perfectly. It just doesn’t get any better.
The regular album ends with Videotape. Beautiful piano ballad. I couldn’t really think of a better way to end “In Rainbows”. It fits perfectly and it gives extra power to Thom Yorke’s vocals. Even though I often feel no one should cover Radiohead, I would be interested in hearing Our Lady Peace do a cover of this song, as they are pretty much the only band I can think of that could actually pull it off. If those two bands would be on a bill together, I think we have something close to a dream line-up.
“In Rainbows” is a cross between “OK Computer” & “Kid A” with little sidetrips to “Hail to the Thief” & “The Bends”. It’s Radiohead’s many talents bundled in one magnificent album that rivals “OK Computer” for best Radiohead album to date. If you haven’t heard it, head over to inrainbows.com and get your hands on it. It’s worth your time and you can even decide yourself how much you want to spend on it.