Pretty much everyone has a favorite Radiohead album. Even if you don’t really like music, chances are you still at least like some form of Radiohead over the years. The band has worked so hard to be listenable, almost anyone can derive some form of pleasure from some point in their output. I take this as almost a given. Still, I thought I’d talk about my favorite Radiohead album, because its an odd choice. You see, I loved 2007’s “In Rainbows”.
Radiohead has been around for so long, and in heavy rotation, but the way they reinvent themselves on this album and incorporate new processes of recording is not only impressive but the very fact that they remained current, continuing to make great music showcases a timeless quality the cements them into legendary status. The politics behind the release of “In Rainbows” are just icing on the cake. Radiohead released “In Rainbows” for free on the internet. They nimbly experimented with self distribution of their art which is a difficult thing, creating ownership of art takes practice. By distributing their album for free online and asking the listener to pay whatever they felt was appropriate for the album, they were giving up the rights for their music to be played at any given point in the future without ever receiving a cent again for it. Sure, the album still sold nicely, Because critics ate it up, but the strength of the record lent itself to buzz and infected the listening masses like a disease.
The album follows up nicely on the bands earlier catalog, each song is a great new entry into their mythos of songcraft. On “In Rainbows” Radiohead offers up pop delicacies that flirt with heavy electronica (a Radiohead staple) while still bringing the meat and potatoes of their alt rock staple to the table. The band really keeps up tempo tracks throughout the length of this album with a few odd exceptions. For the most part the drums kick into high gear and allow for Thom Yorke’s alienesque wail to carry on, creating a haunting quality that earned the music heavy rotation in the youth markets of today’s radio. “Body Snatchers” for instance remixes some of the themes once practiced on “Kid A” an earlier Radiohead album, and perfects them with an upbeat progression in which the band lets loose sentimentality and concocts a catchy up beat hit. The breakdowns are manic and the guitars and vocal wail frantically until they don’t. After “bodysnatchers” the album takes a downbeat turn, with the more emotional “nude”. The song plays on a bluesy riff and sways softly while the guitars and drums are muted into the background caressing the ear, Thom Yorke coos and caws into the microphone creating an entirely atmospheric but all together pleasing experience. the next song on the album “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” sounds like it was recorded underwater, the movement of the music is so fluid and they create a sound that is similar to what the band Sigur Ros did on their single “Ny batteri”, gentle and soothing, the song films a movie in the mind’s eye and one can almost imagine a tranquil aquarium with it’s distinct lighting and bizarre reef displays in the background. Up next sequentially on the album, “All I need” is my personal favorite cut from this record, the song structure is so simple that the complexity of the production almost overwhelms my senses. The triangle, the drums, the feedback, its all a muffled mess that the simple lyric cut through, and by the time the piano kicks into the song, I feel like I am either waking up from a nice dream, or falling asleep. Thom Yorke really does good work on this song, hitting high notes and telling a story beautifully. “Reckoner” is another strong track you should check out, I love the way the band sculpts their sound, shaping the listener out of clay and chiseling away all the rough edges until all that is left is a beautiful statue of pop perfection. Check out this album if you haven’t listen to it in a while.