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In Rainbows
label: XL
released: 11.15.07
our score: 3 out of 5.0

Get In Rainbows sheet music and guitar tab!

Startles me is how restrained it feels
by: Greg Gaston

...In Rainbows is Radiohead’s seventh record, and if you divide their career into stages, as I am, it’s the start of their third act, though not necessarily their final one. After all, Hamlet’s got nothing on Yorke‘s neurotic melodramas. Nigel Godrich, their usual producer of choice, also collaborated on this one with the band. Some of these songs, like “Nude” and “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi”, have been floating around for years in different incarnations. I remember hearing “15 Step” at Bonnaroo in 2006 with Yorke spinning around the stage like a mad marionette in the Tennessee summer heat. Glowsticks arced through the darkness like arrows as the multi-hued attack of their sonic boom lit up that fevered night.

After listening to In Rainbows for a few weeks now, and letting its textures marinade in my mind, what still startles me is how restrained it feels. Besides the opening shots of “15 Step" and “Bodysnatchers” with the throbbing bass and amped rock riffs cracking the songs open, on the whole it’s amazingly subdued with keyboards as the dominant instrument. Not that that has to be a bad thing, mind you.

I appreciate the spare, elegant dynamics of these new songs, especially the gorgeous ballads like “All I Need” and “House of Cards.” This record is much le! ss frene tic or enraged than Hail to the Thief, and Yorke’s quicksilver falsetto haunts these melodies in fragile quivers. In the mode of earlier slow stunners like “Exit Music” and “No Surprises", Yorke includes another of his patented wrist-slitters, “Videotape”, as the moody swan song. Don’t listen to this near a bridge, whatever you do.

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