Wednesday, October 10, 2007
It's a momentous day here in indie musicdom; Radiohead have just released their long-anticipated seventh LP, In Rainbows. Since I was serving as a missionary when their previous album, Hail to the Thief came out in 2003, I didn't get to listen to it until July 2004, which means I've only had to wait for three years for this new record to come out.
I'm here to tell you that it was absolutely worth waiting for.
Ever since the advent of OK Computer, their third CD (and arguably their magnum opus, depending on how you feel about the next LP, Kid A) every one of their albums have been designed as a whole, rather than merely a collection of songs. That's part of what makes Radiohead's music so rewarding to me; each album becomes something bigger than 12 or 13 snatches of song. With In Rainbows, Radiohead breaks the trend. The new release doesn't have the same cohesion as any of its predecessors had; you could easily listen to this album on shuffle without missing anything, something that couldn't be said of any of their other albums (with the exception of their debut, Pablo Honey).
That said, it doesn't detract from the album in the slightest. These ten songs are fantastic, each of them. Things take off right from the get-go with "15 Step" - a weird sort of electronic crunch accompanies Thom Yorke singing, "How come I end up where I started/How come I end up where I went wrong?" in his trademark falsetto voice. This album has some serious energy, continuing the trend we saw in Hail to the Thief. It moves. It has swagger. "Bodysnatchers" delivers the same high-octane thrills. Yet lest you think this whole album is a series of rockers, "Nude" slows things down. Originally written during the Bends/OK Computer era, it's reminiscent of past quasi-ballads like "Exit Music (for a film)" and "How to Disappear Completely."
And then they pick it right back up with "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi". This album has something for everyone. It has the weird, ethereal sounds that hardcore fans are looking for, soft, sweet chords for neophytes, and general rocking out songs for a casual listener. It's solid. It's also 2.45 AM and I'm only on my third listen, so I'm in no place to tell you this is the best Radiohead album of all time, but I will say it's one of their best. Certainly the best since Kid A.
Man, I still can't get enough of "Arpeggi". Or "Reckoner". And it's all available for download right now. Pay whatever you want for it. The band doesn't care. It's all up to you. I can't recommend it highly enough. Do yourself a favor, shell out a few bucks, and pick up this album. It's easily the album of the year, which isn't to say that there's been much competition. What else has come out? Okkervil River's The Stage Names? Andrew Bird's Armchair Apocrypha?
Seriously. Stop reading this and download the album right now.