In Rainbows

Studio Album by released in 2007

In Rainbows review

A challenge of a truly odd type band

Setting aside purely musical merits of the influential bands of today it becomes pretty obvious that the overwhelming majority of them look pretty much the same. Years of playing behind their shoulders, reasonable approach to show business in their heads and secured chart position in practice. In a word, everyone demonstrates close unity with the rules of the industry and readiness to keep up the system till the end. With such an approach a step that Radiohead undertook for distribution of their new album In Rainbows looks like a real challenge of a truly odd type band. It so happened that after release of their recent album Hail To The Thief in 2003 the musicians found themselves completely free from any contract obligations and actually were left to their own recourses. They took a longstanding vacation and started working on their seventh studio album somewhere in the beginning of 2005. After their new songs were finally ready the musicians decided to distribute them via Internet and uploaded material on their site where anyone willing could buy this record for the price he or she considers acceptable.

Radiohead in the new guise

However, unusual distribution is far from being the album's only virtue. In Rainbows as a separate record is worthy of all possible praises. Radiohead were always a solid band but with this record they attained their artistic zenith. It is hard to compare it with their previous works since Radiohead deliver new sound on every album and this one is no exception but still the band sounds very recognizable. In Rainbows represents Radiohead in the new guise, which looks more straightforward, accessible and even poppy if you please. You can feel a certain relaxation of their obligatory duty to be innovative; the tense air doesn't look that tense any longer but still the album never loses that typical atmosphere of continuous sluggish schizophrenia. For the most part, In Rainbows is a guitar driven album, it still has a strong electronica feel but the overall amount of such elements looks much lesser than it was on Kid A for instance. The general sounding is different now: the songs sound less noisy, some sort of accuracy showed up and the main thing is that they paid a proper attention to vocals. Just like it is supposed to be, the voice takes a leading position in the songs and comprises a kind of a compositional center.

Guitar evolution

The whole thing starts with the 15 Steps, which reveals some of the basic characteristic features of this album. The song's intro represents electronic drums pulsing in five-four time but this beat sounds fairly danceable at that. A similar drumming style can be found in different parts of the album, particularly in the middle – on Weird Fishes/Arpeggi and in the end – on Jigsaw Falling Into Place. However, not every track strives to create danceable atmosphere. All I Need, Faust Arp and Reckoner, for instance, are based on huge layers of strings that produce a light and relaxing effect. As it was said earlier In Rainbows, for the most part, is a guitar driven album. Half-jazzy strumming on 15 Steps, Lo-fi garage riffs on Bodysnatchers and beautiful acoustic themes on Faust Arps and Nude – it all makes In Rainbows another unique album. Of course, Radiohead has always utilized guitar but this time around they achieved their best result in this sense. In fact, it is pretty typical for Radiohead to debunk merits of their own records with the help of the new songs; they do it all the time. This is an old tradition and let's hope they will continue following it in the future although it is hard to imagine another record that could sound more Radiohead than In Rainbows.