Review Summary: In Rainbows is another breathtaking passage into the mind of Radiohead, presenting an exquisite collection of songs that manifests all of the band's greatest talents.
I've been listening to In Rainbows for a while now, and every time it plays through I cannot quite pinpoint what it is about this album that makes me so emotional. Is it Thom Yorke's potent voice, the seductive instrumentation, the magnificent composition, or simply all of those elements put together? Radiohead's seventh studio album, released in 2007, is the band's most ethereal and most cathartic work.
The sheer beauty of In Rainbows shines through the band's successful creative efforts. When listening to this LP, especially with a good set of headphones, I feel like I am in the recording studio with Thom and his cronies. The production on this album is so clean and graceful that the listener can hear each one of the elaborate musical layers coming together in unison for a finished product that sounds brilliant. However, these components mesh so gracefully that ultimately In Rainbows sounds simpler, more genuine, and significantly warmer.
Moreover, Radiohead once again balances a wide variety of instruments with an array of electronics, generating a range of different, gratifying sounds. These songs tug at the listeners' emotions in a different way than most albums do. In many cases, what Thom is singing about doesn't necessarily matter; what makes it sound so fervent is how he sings it. Yorke's voice acts more like an instrument itself than a typical vocal section. Thus, in many of these tracks, his voice is what carries the song.
One instance is "Reckoner", my favorite track, in which Yorke's falsetto takes the weight of the entire song on its back. Combined with the dramatic tambourines, piano, and strings, the vocals culminate in a wave of passion about three minutes into the song before once again grabbing the listener by the hand. "Nude" changes the pace of the album early on with an irresistible bassline and wispy guitar strumming. Overall, the sentiment of this tune is so fulfilling and soothing. As In Rainbows develops, Radiohead benevolently grab the listener and elicit feelings of awe, adoration, and concern. The sound of the LP itself is so temperamental and honest that it can provoke tears at its emotional apexes.
"Jigsaw Falling Into Place" speeds things up toward the latter half of the album, building up to an outburst of fast-paced danceable rock. It sounds like the band is having a lot of fun on this track, something we, as listeners, love to hear. The album's loudest and most aggressive tune, "Bodysnatchers" showcases Radiohead turning up their amplifiers and delivering a punchy and infectious number. Throughout this record, Radiohead once again prove that they are undeniably adept at shifts in both mood and technique. "All I Need" is another example of a song that progresses and evolves into something unexpected. Beginning with a quiet and peculiar beat, the track later morphs into a thunderous surge of piano and drums.
The album opens with the lively "15 Step" and closes with the contemplative "Videotape", a somber tune that slowly sinks into silence. In Rainbows is strong from beginning to end, and there is something to love about each of the 10 tracks. A few of the tracks, such as "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi" and "House of Cards", even manage to exhibit a gentler side of Radiohead. Also, the album flows perfectly, and the minimalistic "Faust Arp" serves as the bridge from the first half of the album to the second half. The composition is more refined, the production is intricate, and the instrumentation is pleasantly sophisticated.
Therefore, In Rainbows is a very rewarding listen, mustering so many musical elements that fit together so well. This proves that the band still possesses their charisma, managing to construct majestic music that explores roads rarely visited. With In Rainbows, Radiohead has opened a whole new window of opportunity. Thus, the charm of this album is simply undeniable.
Jigsaw Falling Into Place
All I Need