Radiohead's 7th album will forever be referred to as much for its content as the method by which it greeted our hungry ears. On 10th October we were literally 'given' the first morsels from this truly unique band since 2003's Hail To The Thief, but that wasn't the only great thing about that day. As a youngster I can remember the magical feeling that came with the arrival of a long awaited album. You would count down the days until it was released trapped in a glorious, internet-free vacuum of anticipation and speculation. Then when the day finally came the first thing on your mind was getting to that shop and claiming your copy, nothing else mattered in those days.
Fast forward to the present day and things have changed considerably. You rarely need to wait for anything now - leaks or promos arrive in your iTunes like it ain't no thang, and anyway even if you are waiting for something to be released by the time you get it your head is already littered with countless 'expert' opinions that it's hard to form your own. Well, last Wednesday we were all equal. Currently label-less, Radiohead took control of their property and gave it to everyone at the same time - no leaks, no promo copies and therefore no opinions. We were all free to make up our minds, not only on how valuable it was to us but what we thought of it. I felt a twinge of that magic return last week as I downloaded my copy and it's stayed with me throughout every play of In Rainbows. I remember where I was on the release of pretty much every Radiohead album and Wednesday 10th of October was a special day indeed.
So, in the democratic spirit with which this record was released it seems fitting to apply such ideals to its scrutiny. So here are some Chimps early takes on the whole In Rainbows thing, and it ain't law it's just, like, their opinion man... - BC
People who have protested for years to me about Radiohead, have been approaching me recently saying; ‘Have you heard the new Radiohead album? It’s Great!’
It is great indeed, a popularity that has not been the result of any concessions made by the band. ‘In Rainbows’ is beautiful, challenging and yes, repeat it, uplifting. It is the end of a sometimes lonely journey that has led them through the hinterland of ‘Kid A’, ‘Amnesiac’ and the not-to-be-ignored solo project by Thom Yorke last year; ‘The Eraser’.
‘In Rainbows’ would not the subtle and lushly layered album it is without those earlier explorations, masterfully combining the art of melody (which the band claimed to forsake after ‘OK Computer) and laptop experimentation. The ten songs are underpinned by Phil Selway’s tight framework of drumming and percussion, a structure which allows us to really appreciate the wonder of Yorke’s flying voice.
I heard that Muse were ‘the new Radiohead’. That crown is still taken. Indefinitely. Enjoy the moment.
I paid 8 quid by the way. A sum arrived at after several phonecalls, a lot of deleting,
re-entering and inner moral debate.
- LG - 5 Stars
Stand out tracks are Nude and All I Need. Yorke's vocals act as such a powerful instrument. Radiohead's best moments as a band come when they achieve the perfect balance between explosion and quiet - and this album isn't quite up on the explosive stuff. With these songs having being written and recorded over time, it feels the album lacks the cohesion of their finest releases.
The band should be commended for their release strategy, as the music industry certainly needs re-modelling. Having said that, it's any easy risk to take when you're seven albums deep on the back of millions in sales. Quite how it might work for new musicians I'm not so sure.
£3 and 3.5 stars - CJ
More than any other recording artist, one feels one should react to a new Radiohead album in the same manner one might to the unveiling of a controversial piece of contemporary art. One must try to connect with what one hears on a much deeper, esoteric level.
It is unquestionably, and unequivocally, a piece of Art. Beautifully challenging, not just to the individual listening, but on a far higher plane it is pointing the gun; the finger; the stick not only at the music industry, but society as a whole. In accessing the album the conch is passed to the world and is asked: What is music worth? What is art worth?
One parted with £4, as one is tight and would have bought it in the sales. (Though one wishes one had paid one pound as that would have made for a better punch line). - Locochimpo
The release of this album was an absolute bolt from the blue. Everyone knew album seven was past due, but no-one could have predicted a release this radical. As CJ mentions, it's a no-brainer when you're 70 millions albums deep in sales - and realistically it is not a suitable model for 99% of the bands out there. Why not just forget your worries about piracy and still release a CD? The labels don't have any problems knocking very recent releases by the likes of Kasabian or Kings of Leon down to £3 in HMV, so they're obviously covering their costs.
I've never had a problem either downloading music for free or paying for it if it's good. In fact I'm a conscientious thief, often stockpiling copies of albums I've downloaded, or shelling out £30 for a shoddy live box - as compensation for someone giving me a copy of a studio release.
The bottom line these days however is that CDs are fast becoming a thing of the past. I have shelves and shelves (or boxes under the bed these days) of CDs that have literally never been played on a CD player. They arrive, get ripped to digital and then filed away. Sleeve notes might get skimmed over on the way home. Radiohead have a always put great stock in their artwork, and I have a couple of the limited editions album's with Stanley Donwood's artwork. They're under the bed too.
I'd love to get the £40 discbox, but realistically it's not what I really want - as I'm not going to hang it on the wall like some sort of pseudo art collector. I want the music, and I'd most likely shell out the extra just to get the extra tracks. I plumped down £3 for the download and will pony up for the CD when it lands (hopefully) next year some time, just for the extra music. Promise.
And what of the music? I loved Hail To The Thief and saw it as a climax to their progressive work on Kid A and Amnesiac. I'm glad Thom Yorke's diverted his tinkering to his far-from-satisfactory solo record and put a bit of welly back into this, but it does feel some what incohesive in places, sagging a bit in the middle. Minor nit-picking though. It's a new Radiohead album and it's better than 90% of what's been around recently. - CSF - 4.5 Stars
The start and finish of a Radiohead album have been a along fascination of mine. Having made some of the best music of this and the last century Radiohead have always had an annoying habit of chucking in the odd duff song towards the mid way point of an album then another at the end. OK Computer, Amnesiac and Hail To The Thief are definitely top heavy but I can't put the same claim on In Rainbows. This is one of the most consistent albums they've made.
Like Kid Amnesiac's wailing trumpets the new sound for this year is the blues guitar and its presence on 15 Steps is a great contrast to the stuttering electronics. Bodysnatchers was a stand-out powerhouse at last years live shows with the dirtiest riffs we've heard for years and Reckoner and House Of Cards have an excellent direction-less quality, maintaining the same beat and tempo throughout both songs in their own way suggest that they could go on for ever. Which leads me on to the main complaint, length. The album itself seems very short and many of the songs end way too abruptly.
But finally they get the ending right. Kid A could end so well if it wasn't for Motion Picture Soundtrack but a lot of the others start to tail off from about track 6. Jigsaw Falling Into Place is a future classic and one of the finest songs on this record but the spooked out lethargy of Videotape gives a powerful sense of finality to the album. All in all this one of the most complete pieces of work from Radiohead in years. You can hear every album they've made in this one including Pablo Honey and it still works. - BC - 4.5 Stars
The first listen of In Rainbows for me was an instant connection - it just sounded better than anything else I've heard for ages. There's an aura of confidence, of a band sitting back and enjoying playing together, the sound of people with something to say and the skills to say it.
Don't know if I've remembered this correctly, but I'm sure there was an episode of Later... once where Billy Corgan was on with Zwan (his post-Pumpkins project) and you could tell he really thought he'd changed the face of music etc again - and then you could see that vision crumbling while he watched Radiohead - who really had. (Almost as good as the time Dylan played Donovan one of his new songs.) The other thing I always remember about them was seeing them play Victoria Park in 2000, and just being amazed at how they'd managed to get so many people to listen to really out-there, avant-garde rock - and absolutely love it.
They just seem ahead of the game somehow - yes they've got record collections filled with Aphew Twin and Autechre - but it's translating that into rock and singalongable songs that makes them work so well. Love the ballads on this one - House Of Cards is as close as I think I've ever heard them get to a love song. Stormers like 15 Step and Bodysnatchers are huge. There's a real sense of them having taken the experiments of the past and learned how to incorporate them without trying so hard this time round, leaving it all feeling like complete, fully formed collection. You somehow want to inhabit this album - or maybe just hear it loud and live. Personally, I like the fact it's concise - it's one of the few albums this year where I've wanted to listen to it altogether, in order - and then go back to the beginning again.
To pull all this off, and then top it with the added "hey we know it's 2007" move of all the download/boxset options makes them feel connected to the world we've all found ourselves in. Totally agree with BC above - it does feel special to let everyone get it at the same time. As someone who grew up waiting months, sometimes a year for albums to be shipped out to the colonies from England, it's weird to click and instantly get stuff these days - does feel like this has somehow put some of the excitement and fun back into music. Would love to know how the experiment's done - real drag it's not chart eligible, but maybe that's all pointless and irrelevant now too... C71 - 4.5 Stars