The release of In Rainbows came as a shock to both ardent Radiohead fans and media conglomerate fat cats alike.
Rumored to be released sometime in 2008, the album’s fuzzy status was suddenly made clear in a surprise post on Radiohead’s weblog, Dead Air Space, in which they announced that it would be released on Oct. 10.
Astonishingly, Radiohead decided to distribute In Rainbows exclusively online and in the absence of a record contract. And, in a completely unprecedented move, they let consumers decide how much they felt was reasonable to pay for the album. It’s certainly worth making a donation because Radiohead’s newest album is not one you will soon forget.
In Rainbows is a psychedelic trip through a jagged yet exquisite dreamscape sculpted by the genius of a madman. The first thing one notices about In Rainbows is the absence of the palpable paranoid overtones of previous albums like Kid A and OK Computer; rather, In Rainbows is more mellow and melodic. But under the melodies runs a dark undercurrent of cynicism, frustration and even rage towards the state of the world today. This is especially apparent in “Bodysnatchers,” in which lead singer Thom Yorke expresses his morbid outlook on the new millennium. The tight composition of the album gives the illusion of simplicity when in reality each track is deeply complex.
Overall, In Rainbows is a tour de force for Radiohead. Its elegance, complexity and maturity are indicative of an album far ahead of its time.
Nick Harbaugh may be contacted at email@example.com.