In Rainbows



by Electric City EMERITUS
December 2nd, 2007 | 407 replies

Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: What happened to Radiohead?

Oh Radiohead and your wacky antics. You've made us all cream ourselves by giving away your new album for free (sorry, "choose our own payment"), and made all the major labels scream bloody murder because no one else is making money off of your latest album, In Rainbows, but you. We applaud you as we legally download your album free of charge. When In Rainbows' judgement day comes, will this revolutionary distribution method be viewed as genius marketing, or merely a publicity stunt" It could go either way, since reports of Radiohead's revenue stretch into the tens of millions and giant masses of jobless teenagers now don't have to worry about the file sharing police bitching about the free music. To me, the Radiohead Generation and marketing scheme will be In Rainbows' greatest legacy, because if there's anything I'll remember about In Rainbows' other than the giant hullaballoo surrounding its ***-you-music-lords distribution, it's this: In Rainbows is a really disappointing album.

There are several reasons for this. Chiefly among them is that the notoriously rabid Radiohead fans blogged this album into mythical near-Chinese Democracy status: it's going to revolutionize Radiohead's sound, it's going to sound like OK Computer, no The Bends, no Kid A with guitars. Its coming out end of 2006, early 2007, late 2007, maybe 2008, oh *** NEXT WEEK! No album could possibly live up to the astronomical amount of hype In Rainbows received, so Radiohead get a reprieve there. However, they didn't help themselves by previewing nearly the entire album on tour in 2006. As members of the Youtube generation, every Radiohead fan had ample oppurtunity to listen to the album in full, and grow attached to the brilliant live recordings of 9/10 of In Rainbows's tracks. This creates a legitimate problem with In Rainbows: the production. Live, album finisher "Videotape" churns and swells with a chaotic minimalist melody that moves with a frenzy that threatens to lose control at any second. On In Rainbows, for whatever reason it's raped of all it's energy and made into a snoozer, as Yorke just plays the piano for 4 and a half minutes while loopy drums mark the downbeat. Similarly, "Open Pick" goes from a barn burner with electric backing to match Thom's paranoid whines to the unnecessarily acoustic "Jigsaw Falling Into Place", where the small sounding instrumentation makes Yorke sound alone on an island, shouting and crossing the line from paranoid to annoying.

In fact, all of In Rainbows is dominated by the voice of Thom Yorke, and the album suffers for it. Yorke's voice isn't strong enough to carry an entire album, as proven on his solo project The Eraser, and unfortunately In Rainbows at times sounds like The Eraser if Radiohead made it. No band member gets to do anything interesting at all, despite numerous assurances by the internet that guitars would return with a vengeance. Instead, the guitars are relegated to playing arpeggiated backing riffs or simple rhythmic lines in nearly every song. The lone moment when the guitars get to do something interesting, "Bodysnatchers", is ruined by low-fi production and Yorke's increasing lyrical senselessness. "I have no idea what I am talking about! I am trapped in this body and can't get out!" shouts Yorke nearly tunelessly, then later insisting that "This is the 21st century!" In Rainbows shows a stark dip in Yorke's lyrical potency, so sharp in songs of yore like "A Wolf at the Door" and "Karma Police". His love songs sound as though they hide a Gatsby-like obsession, like "House of Cards"' opening line "I don't wanna be your friend, I just wanna be your lover" and "All I Need"'s "I'm an animal trapped in your hot car". At times on In Rainbows, Yorke seems to have lost all relatability and has become the caricature his critics have made him out to be.

This isn't to say all the songs off In Rainbows are bad. In fact, most of them are solid tunes. "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi" shows a brief flash of brilliance that counters most of the problems In Rainbows comes with. It runs exactly like the live version, maintaining the drowning whirlpool the guitars create. Ed O' Brien's sole backup-vocal contribution propels the song past every other song off In Rainbows, and Yorke's lyrics aren't insane here, in fact they're actually quite sad. "Yeah everybody leaves if they get the chance" he sighs, and he actually sounds human this time. "Arpeggi" accentuates its position as the best song, but it still doesn't stand up to other highlights of Radiohead's career, which is the final issue with In Rainbows. The songs here range from the solid to the slightly more solid, but no song has that supreme power that makes every Radiohead album worthwhile, like "Pyramid Song" off Amnesiac or "There There" off Hail to the Thief. This makes In Rainbows come off sounding more like a side effort rather than a real album. As a landmark in marketing, In Rainbows will be remembered forever by the Radiohead Generation. As an album, I will remember it as a disappointment.

Recommended Tracks

Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
15 Step

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user ratings (5658)
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • FlawedPerfection EMERITUS (4)
    With the addition of a second disc, In Rainbows loses some flow but maintains the original...

    Liberi Fatali EMERITUS (4)
    Another continuation in the overall Radiohead style, and one which executes its design wit...

    verdant CONTRIBUTOR (5)
    Facts For Whatever: A 15 Step Guide to In Rainbows...

    Ryder631 (5)
    After crafting songs of exquisitely Orwellian paranoia for over a decade, Radiohead give u...

  • MarvellousG (4.5)
    An understated, consistently enjoyable album, In Rainbows feels like a wonderful comeback ...

    RJayZ (4.5)
    It's not easy writing a masterpiece. It's a lot less easy following one up....

    gotsthedewsdood (4.5)
    Radiohead at their most intimate in years; In Rainbows is their own collection of "seducti...

    ViolentFemmes (4.5)
    Radiohead's unusual marketing ploy on In Rainbows may be what is most remembered looking b...

  • pye3214 (5)
    A modern classic and a must listen for everyone, not just Radiohead fans....

    AtavanHalen (4)
    An unpredictable record from the biggest unsigned band in the world....

    someguest (4.5)
    When I'm at the pearly gates......

    AngryLittleAlchemist (5)
    "You're All I Need..."...

  • jtswope (5)
    In Rainbows is another breathtaking passage into the mind of Radiohead, presenting an exqu...

    cbmartinez (4.5)
    In Rainbows is beautiful in its simplicity and once again proves that Radiohead are the ki...

    Reckoner (5)
    A modern classic from the best band in the world....

    tribestros (4.5)
    Dark. Disturbing. Lush, yet subdued. In Rainbows is everything fans hoped for....

  • UncalledFor (4)
    May initially feel like a Let Down with No Surprises to be found (because it has Everythin...

    CaliggyJack (5)
    IMpossbutnotwithexceptionNEW ER4...

    shauryapatel (4.5)
    What were the fans left with after the 'pay what you want' hype was cleared? The collectio...

    DeadToPain (3.5)
    Although not as impressive as an Opeth album, Radiohead damn well tries to impress the Spu...

  • cagedbutterfly (3.5)
    Radiohead rises from the ashes of their past 3 albums and compose a beauty of a record....

    Sejine (4)

    barcafan21 (4.5)
    An album that will most likely go down in history as Radiohead’s album that revolutioniz...

    Kuo (5)
    In conclusion this album is a classic, it is easily accessible to most listeners fan or no...

Comments:Add a Comment 
December 2nd 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

This album was definitely good, but is overrated.

December 2nd 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

So basically you're winging that the songs are better live and calling it a review?

And calling this is a disappointment to Radiohead fans is pretty stupid when it's the first album since Kid A to actually meet expectations as a general reaction.

This isn't a bad review but neither is it good.

December 2nd 2007


Nice review for a total shit-cluster.

Electric City
December 2nd 2007


Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

I'm saying that the album's a disappointment because the live previews were better than the album versions.

EDIT: @ lunch.This Message Edited On 12.02.07

December 2nd 2007


Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

This review doesn't sit well with me for some reason until you actually start talking about the music. And yeah, the remarks about disappointment to Radiohead fans is a little naive considering the feedback the album has. I agree with a lot of the review, but you seem to be going for a shock value when there isn't really any to be had.

For some reason, I don't see the album as a disappointment, just a great record that isn't much beside that.

Electric City
December 2nd 2007


Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

Well, the Radiohead fans I've talked to that aren't on sputnik think of the album as a disappointment, so thats why I included it. I might edit it a bit.

Edit: Fixed.This Message Edited On 12.02.07

December 2nd 2007


Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

i love the album, and so do the radiohead fans that i know. good review tho i do disagree

December 2nd 2007


Album Rating: 4.5

Album is sooooooooo good.

December 2nd 2007


Album is so overrated. Nice review, the comparison to The Eraser is spot-on.This Message Edited On 12.02.07

December 2nd 2007


Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

"No album could possibly live up to the astronomical amount of hype In Rainbows received,"

frances the mute did. it was better than expected

December 2nd 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

It's about time this gets a sub-4 review, great job.

December 2nd 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

Just about summed up my thoughts completely. Good review.

December 2nd 2007


I love Radiohead and quite frankly, your review was full of shit.

Electric City
December 2nd 2007


Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

I love Radiohead too, and quite frankly, this album made me sad.

December 2nd 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

I don't know, I think this album is pretty good. Your review was good though so you get my vote. Does anybody know what the names are of the two bonus tracks on hail to the thief?This Message Edited On 12.02.07

December 2nd 2007


Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Negative on the rating

Electric City
December 3rd 2007


Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

Did you neg on the rating?

December 3rd 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

This album is booooooooooring.

Coming from an OK Computer fan.

December 3rd 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

you can't neg a review because you disagree, this was well written regardless of if you share the same opinions

December 5th 2007


Album Rating: 4.5


so it wasn't what you expected

Don't have any expectations.

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