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Radiohead - In Rainbows

Released on-line, 10/10/07; Discbox set, 12/3/07

Itís hard to believe itís been over four years since we heard Radioheadís last album Hail to the Thief. Their previous effort earned a reasonable amount of critical praise and commercial success. After the largely experimental sound explored in Kid A and Amnesia, Hail to the Thief sounded like an amalgamation of previous Radiohead efforts. With the release of In Rainbows, itís hard to know exactly what to expect from Radiohead. But, you can always count on Thom Yorkeís seductive falsetto and a few tracks that will likely haunt you for some time after a listen.

The first track that grabs your attention is "Bodysnatchers". This up-tempo track is rife with guitar riffs and Yorkeís signature falsetto that never fails to grab oneís attention. Complementing the solid orchestration of "Bodysnatchers" are clever, politically charged lyrics that reflect a certain claustrophobic paranoia. "You can fight it like a dog and they brought me to my knees. They got scared and they put me in. All the lies run around my face," doesnít require much reading between the lines.

A slower, mellower, more personal track is "All I Need". A slow burning ode to painful, unrequited love, "All I Need" is a beautiful, endearing song that is all the more haunting with Yorkeís melancholy voice. Just how painful is unrequited love? "Iím an animal trapped in your hot car. I am all the days that you choose to ignore." Leave it to Radiohead to come up with the simplest and most eloquent lyrics for being snubbed.

Another languid love related track is "House of Cards". Denial is a wonderfully handy tool when engaging in an illicit love affair. Entanglements such as these are frequently fragile at best and a "house of cards" is a pretty solid metaphor to work with. Yorkeís croonings make infidelity seem romantic and beautiful. Radiohead almost makes you forget about the almost inevitable heartache and pain that follows such affairs.

Another standout track from In Rainbows is "Reckoner". This spartan track seduces with some simple drumbeats, a little tambourine, and Yorkeís vocals. This moody, somber, and reflective track waxes melancholic about a relationship that perhaps was not as balanced as it could have been. Yorke pleads, "Did I cater to all your needs?" Previously influenced by DJ Shadow on OK Computer, "Reckoner" bears more than a passing resemblance to a few tracks from DJ Shadowís classic album, Endtroducing.

Itís been nearly 15 years since we first heard Radioheadís "Creep". In the intervening years, Radiohead has established themselves as one of the most influential bands ever. Habitually receiving Grammy nominations, thereís no reason to believe their latest effort, In Rainbows wonít garner them similar attention. While thereís nothing on In Rainbows that could be considered markedly different from their previous work, the album is a solid collection of polished Radiohead tracks that will please fans and critics alike.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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