Consistent as ever.
Radiohead are back and in case you don't know (you may have been on holiday to Mars of late or perhaps you turn off at the mere mention of Radiohead, in which case you wont be reading this review....) 'In Rainbows' was made available to download for any price that the listener was willing to pay for it. It's certainly a bold move, not a total surprise given the band have a preutation for innovation or alternative ideas and its definitely an experiment that is worth watching and seeing the impact it has on the music industry. It also slightly impacts on what to think about the album. In reviewing, there should always be an element of is it going to be value for money for people, out of all the albums available, should this be the one that gets peoples money instead of the rest. Given the option of picking the album up for the sort of money you would find down the back of your couch, that idea goes out of the window so its back to the drawing board of judging this record.
"I've no idea what I am talking about."
That may be a reference to the long-winded opening paragraph of this review but in fact, it's the moment when 'In Rainbows' sparks to life and the album begins to surge with an energy and vigour. After a resonable opening track, 'Bodysnatchers' immediately pricks the listeners ears up with its jaggy guitar line crackling and dancing throughout and Thom Yorke doing his best Thom Yorke-style delivery. Yes, the front man has been imitated many times but he still captures that melodic whine better than anyone else. This track alone is worth a few quid of anyones money so for all those who picked the cheapest option are in credit already.
'Nude' immediately turns down the clank and drive from 'Bodysnatchers' but for those people who feel that the band have went too experimental and are lacking in simple songs these days may find something that they like here. Sure, its still a bit left-field with the ambient backing but as that quiet guitar line starts to build and the vocals are at a pace that can be sung along to, this may just be a song that the fans who were left behind can enjoy. It's certainly one for the lighters during the live shows, the pace of the track makes it likely to be played after a few of the bands bigger songs, just to calm proceedings down a bit.
And these two songs help map out the route of the album. The faster ones that spit and snarl like a band who are continually evolving yet continually fighting their past and others expectations or the quieter softer moments where the bands refelection brings a peace and quiet to proceedings. Radiohead being who they are though, also manage to construct songs that combine both of these elements, as can be seen in 'Weird Fishes / Arpeggi.'
Those familiar with the band's last few albums will find no surprises here (or no alarms either), so if these records turned you off the band, it's probably best to accept that the Radiohead you used to love are never coming back. However, for those who are enjoying the current run, and there are a lot of people who do, don't fall for this line that the band are only enjoyed by geeks and uber-fans these days, it's another bold album from a band that makes bold moves. The lyrics are still as varied as ever, with 'Faust Arp' featuring some tremendous lines with the imagery of "blackbird pies" and "dead from the neck up, I'm stuck, stuck, stuck" really hitting the listener hard. Again, Thom Yorke gets a lot of criticism but this track combines his lyrical talent and his tremendous use of melody, which given his bands mates musical skill, its hard to go wrong with Radiohead.
With the last track 'Videotape' making a reference to the reaching the Pearly Gates, there is the sense of finality about the album, its plodding chimes bringing the listener down and rounding the album out.