Radiohead’s In Rainbows In Review

Pretty big day, huh? Now that it’s been 15-or-so hours since the In Rainbows Premature Evaluations have been rolling in and we’ve all had a little time (literally) to keep it on repeat, let’s dive in.

After a day of spins, we can say this is the record we wanted them to make — or at least, it’s the middle-of-the-record we wanted them to make; everything from “Nude” through “Reckoner” is warm, organic, and instant classic. Less paranoid — or focused on paranoia — than recent past. Yeah, most of the album’s been making setlists for a long while — so the focus shifts to their studio mastery. All you need is a listen of “All I Need,” and the way that crash cymbal’s mic’d in the ride-out: successfully heart-grabbing, but in a lesser band’s hands it’d sound bathetic. (And, fun game: listen to “All I Need” after a spin of Boards Of Canada’s “Roygbiv.”)

“Faust Arp” is a highlight. Dig the juxtaposition of jilted fingerpicking/polite orchestration with a sing-song chorus robbed of any anthemic qualities by Thom’s exhausted vocal style. Between the balladry and “Wakey wakey rise and shine” … almost like he’s operating in homage to Lennon/McCartney. Of course then he starts singing about plastic bags and squeezing tubes.

Pretty cool that one track sounds like Boards of Canada and the next Nick Drake.

Smitten, sure, but it’ll take a little more time to come to solid conclusions about where this stands in the canon, etc. Thankfully, very few of you seemed to have that problem last night/this morning. As for your reviews: Lots of complaints about the sound quality, lots of complaints about how they arranged “Videotape,” and lots of “best. album. ever”-ish love — and overall, lots of great thoughts.

So now that we’re 300+ (and counting) comments, here’s a not entirely representative cross-sample of your reviews, sometimes snipped for brevity, always context retained. Enjoy.

First! Mega thread!
Posted by: Sean Johnston at October 10, 2007 3:01 AM

Isn’t it stunning how this band just never stops growing?
Posted by: Verlaine at October 10, 2007 3:42 AM

In Rainbows is so two hours ago. I’ve already moved on to Hole’s Live Through This. Paid $9. Worth $10.
Posted by: Airica at October 10, 2007 3:56 AM

I know how significant “OK Computer” has been and nothing will likely top that; however, this is probably the best Radiohead album I’ve heard. This is after being a fan for fourteen years. The changes on these songs are mind-blowing. I don’t think an album like this would get the recognition I anticipate it receiving had they released it the old fashioned way. Truly genius album, statement and marketing approach.

And if Stereogum doesn’t put this up in the updated post, then… well, I now own “In Rainbows”, nothing else matters.

paid: $20
worth: priceless
Posted by: jar at October 10, 2007 4:58 AM

There was soul, there was groove, there was crunch and punk and dirt, but not too much schizophrenia. No one-two freakout punches….which is unexpected……and utterly Radiohead.

From the moment I saw the artwork…I knew I could not expect a thing. Just accept.

It seems, with this album, they took the longest, most arduous path to creating some of their most embracing and inviting music. Not to demean it or the quality in any manner, because I hear the toil in every note and arrangement, but it is very warm music. A Radiohead tea-party.

This is pop-music at it’s supreme manifestation.

Posted by: Nicolas at October 10, 2007 5:16 AM

im surprised everyone likes it so much – must just be the hardcores that stayed up late. it generally sounds pretty, but thom, as a songwriter, is pretty irrelevant now. I suspect most people like this because its a radiohead album, and not because its a good album. none of these songs grabs me emotionally except nude, which is a song ive known and loved for so long now that, while having a new recording is nice, its almost like hearing a remix of an old favorite song. i read someone said its a relationship album, which may be the best way to describe this. but thom’s not the guy for relationship music – his persona, brain, and voice are way too abstract and left of center to be able to make songs titled ‘all i need’. ‘nude’ for example is quite an anti-love song – its dark and lonely which makes it good radiohead material.
Posted by: Chris at October 10, 2007 5:40 AM

Best album of the last 2,000 years.
Posted by: Cherry Ghost at October 10, 2007 7:14 AM

really? no one is going to say it?

this album isn’t that great. some of the songs are pretty great, but the fact that they RUINED “videotape” sours the entire listening experience for me.

so, for those counting, they recorded “motion picture soundtrack” and “videotape” both completely wrong compared to live versions, and both were the final track. i’m hoping they don’t mess up “4 minute warning,” since that’s the closing track of the 2nd disc of in rainbows.

also, this came out a lot more mellow than i thought the CD would be. “reckoner” used to be a giant rock song, and while the revision is still good, it doesn’t rock like i expected. “jigsaws” and “all i need” are probably my favs on the disc.

i’m now hoping that the second disc will be a bit more aggressive….bangers n mash, etc. but all in all, this first CD has too many slow songs and sounds more like demos than final versions.

and man, i hate “house of cards.”
Posted by: holmes at October 10, 2007 7:24 AM

well I’m 31 and I was like a little kid at christmas at about 4am, but I feel asleep, woke again around 6am and downloaded it,,I actually thought about calling into work, just so I could listen to it over and over without being disturbed, but my other half wouldn’t be to happy about that…
Posted by: philly808 at October 10, 2007 8:31 AM

Does Radiohead have a paypal account for fuckers like me who feel guilty for paying £0.00 for this album?
Posted by: Barry at October 10, 2007 9:19 AM

seems like the only people that don’t thoroughly enjoy the album are the ones that heard the songs live….i have never listened to the tracks live…so i had no idea what i was going to be getting myself into. and i’m glad i didn’t because it was an amazing listen the entire way through. no disappointments at all….maybe now i will check ou the live tracks and see all the fuss about the ending of videotape…but even when i do. i won’t be disappointed. because i’m already crazy about the record as it is.
Posted by: pj harvey at October 10, 2007 9:32 AM

Is it just me, does anyone really like the fact that this way of releasing an album makes the whole listening experience much more communal and egalitarian?

We’ve got no reviews from elite publications to go on, and at this point early in the game everyone’s take on the album matters and is interesting to read. I don’t know if releasing it the traditional method would’ve garnered such a lively discussion.

Anyway, today is a great day for music lovers and people who like talking about music.
Posted by: Chris D. at October 10, 2007 10:22 AM

we got radiohead .15 seconds ago and here’s our review, NOW!
Posted by: The Playlist at October 10, 2007 10:28 AM

inoffensive, pretty, kind of boring but not bad.

i paid $0.00. a fair price, i think.
Posted by: Al at October 10, 2007 11:06 AM

Reading through these posts, I can only think of one thing: All you people need to go to sleep.
Posted by: Matt at October 10, 2007 11:15 AM

Give the newer stuff some time to grow on us and it’s probably another classic. It really feels like the White Album to me because it strips everything down but swaggers more than ever at the same time. Now watch Pitchfork shit all over it just because they can.
Posted by: trip fontaine at October 10, 2007 1:43 PM

So… we’ve decided it’s better than the new Bloc Party?
Posted by: Greg at October 10, 2007 2:22 PM

I’m rather pissed off at those people who were boasting about getting the download by offering $0.00, and now they’re complaining about the bitrate being less that CD quality.

Here’s an idea: buy the damn record.

For cryin’ out loud, illegal downloading has turned people into friggin’ idiots.
Posted by: Dw Dunphy at October 10, 2007 4:54 PM

Really wish #1 Blogger was in action on this one.

Also, our friends at Gothamist scored a coveted interview with Jonny Greenwood this morning, getting him to chat about In Rainbows. Jonny explained the motivation for the online release:

Just [wanted to get] it out quickly. It was kind of an experiment as well; we were just doing it for ourselves and that was all. People are making a big thing about it being against the industry or trying to change things for people but it?s really not what motivated us to do it. It?s more about feeling like it was right for us and feeling bored of what we were doing before … It?s just interesting to make people pause for even a few seconds and think about what music is worth now. I thought it was an interesting thing to ask people to do and compare it to whatever else in their lives they value or don?t value.

Read more here.

Tags: Radiohead