Radiohead is a band known for their surprises. Their decision to release their new album In Rainbows in a pay-whatever-price-you-want, download-only format from their website, then, comes as a pleasant one.
With Radiohead, you never know what to expect from an album. It’s tough to keep coming out with innovative music, but somehow Radiohead seems to do it every time. In Rainbows focuses on guitar, bass, piano, drums and Thom Yorke’s voice more than the electronic noises of the past few Radiohead albums.
“15 Step” reminds the listener of Kid A with its syncopated drumbeat and its bouncy guitar rhythm. It’s a catchy tune and a fitting opening track.
“Bodysnatchers” kicks it up a notch with its driving guitar and bass. The intensity builds in this song and then it just lets loose in the last minute. Yorke’s vocal range is shown on this track, but the next song, “Nude,” is the first one of the album that really centers on his voice. His range and power is moving.
“Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” has a soothing guitar that somehow makes the listener feel as though they are underwater.
“All I Need” has a synthesized bass and is the first song that really brings out the piano. It’s a short song, but it builds to a mighty climax with Yorke’s voice and the piano. “Faust Arp” is another short song, but there is something striking in its conciseness.
“Reckoner” has a perfect blend of Yorke’s voice, piano, and drums. “House of Cards” opens with Yorke singing, “I don’t want to be your friend, I just wanna be your lover.” While this is a great line, the music in this song doesn’t go anywhere. This is not necessarily a bad thing, just a little different.
The last two songs are the best on the album. “Jigsaw Falling Into Place” is the song closest to being a classic, jaw-dropping Radiohead song, but the percussion section needs just a little bit more power. “Videotape” is also a fantastic song. The piano and Yorke’s singing really accentuate great lyrics like, “When Mephistopheles is just beneath/And he’s reaching up to grab me.” In this song, though, the percussion is overdone and takes away from the piano.
Overall, In Rainbows is a fantastic album. It doesn’t have a single weak track, but it doesn’t have any songs that really blow the listener away.