Radiohead “In Rainbows” (Self-Released)
Reviewing Radiohead’s seventh album, In Rainbows, and disregarding the music industry significance of the release is a difficult task. It is not every day one of the biggest bands in the world self-releases an album and gives fans the opportunity to pick their own price when downloading it. However, much like Wilco’s label issues prior to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot propelled the band into the mainstream, the industry decisions for In Rainbows only enhances the band’s prominent profile. What is most important in these two equations is the fact that you have two tremendous albums driving the stories.
In Rainbows succeeds where Amnesiac and Hail To The Theif stumbled. The album sees the band returning to their masterful form. This is where the band walks that beautiful tightrope between accessibility and experimentation. For me, In Rainbows is like the perfect addendum to Radiohead’s stellar third and fourth albums, OK Computer and Kid A. The first four songs recall the great electronic rhythms the band explored so closely on Kid A. The second half of the album is carried by a subtle beauty. Thom Yorke’s vocals soar over the instrumentally ambitious music that Radiohead have become so known for. Always Radiohead’s (not so) secret weapon, guitarist Johnny Greenwood creates some of his greatest emotional backdrops on In Rainbows. In an curious way, their is a warm romanticism in these songs that touches on the grandeur of Radiohead’s work on The Bends. In Rainbows does the impossible. It encompasses all the great phases of Radiohead into one inviting album.
Radiohead has turned the music industry upside down with In Rainbows. They have shattered the preconceived notions of how it is “supposed” to be done. Granted their stature allows the process to go a little smoother than your average band. Nevertheless, Radiohead have taken it upon themselves to navigate uncharted waters. In Rainbows is the perfect album to do so as it ranks right up there with the band’s finest work. Whether it is about the music or the business of music, Radiohead have firmly taken back their place as the most important rock band going.