Review Summary: The often unheard, second half of In Rainbows.
In 2007, Radiohead released their masterful album, In Rainbows. In Rainbows was praised for its much more accessible sound, while still sounding like a Radiohead album. Upon the album’s release, Radiohead released a second disk alongside the standard disk, but only for those who purchased the original diskbox release. This disk contained an additional 8 tracks that are considered by many fans to be the second half of In Rainbows. This release from the band is often overlooked because of the way in which it was released. Should these tracks be as unheard and passed off as simply bonus tracks/B-sides to In Rainbows" The answer to this question is a resounding no. The second disk of In Rainbows is definitely worthy of a listen for those thirsty for an album similar to In Rainbows. The second disc potentially could have even stood on its own, separate from In Rainbows.
The album picks up right where In Rainbows left off with the opener, MK 1. This 1-minute opening can almost be considered an official ending to the final track off of In Rainbows, videotapes. The album then kicks off with Down Is The New Up. It is fast made clear that this release runs directly in the same vein as In Rainbows. The distinct, hopeless and ominous croon of Yorke’s wail cascades in over the heavy dark pianos and simple drumming. As the album carries on, it is very clear that all of the songs are worthy of being part of the standard release. Any song off of the second disk would have seamlessly flowed with the rest of In Rainbows.
The albums strongest tracks, such as Last Flowers, make listeners question why Radiohead wouldn’t choose to give the songs a proper release. Yorke’s trademark dark and sorrowful lyrics are some of the best in his career. Over dancing piano and soft acoustic strumming, Yorke sings the depressing chorus,
“And I can't face the evening straight
You can't offer me escape
Houses move and houses speak
If you take me there you'll get relief
Relief, relief, relief...”
The emotion felt throughout the album is just as strong and possibly even stronger than the feelings felt throughout In Rainbows. The feeling felt throughout the album is very hopeless and hopeful at the same time. It is a feeling that is impossible to put into words. Emotion has always been a key factor for Radiohead’s music and this release is definitely not lacking of that factor. The instrumentation melts together perfectly into accessible, yet interesting compositions.
All of the songs (except for the out of place Bangers + Mash) are written in the slow, sad and more stripped down vein of songs such as Nude and Reckoner off of In Rainbows. When one listens to the funky, up-tempo Bangers + Mash, it is difficult to not think of 15 Step and Body Snatchers released on In Rainbows. Though Bangers is a terrific song, it sounds very out of place when this release is listened to individually. MK 2 is an unnecessary 1-minute track that neither picks up where Go Slowly leaves off, nor transitions well into Last Flowers.
When it comes down to it, anyone who enjoyed In Rainbows is bound to enjoy this release. Running more on the soft and emotional side of In Rainbows sound, this album is actually stronger. The soft and emotional side of Radiohead has always been where they shine. Any track off of this release could have been released on In Rainbows. Though many may simply pass this release off as a B-side, its beautiful, ominous and enchanting sounds are definitely deserving of a more prominent release.