Sunday, October 21, 2007

In Rainbows

Of course it would take Radiohead to introduce the pay-what-you-want model to the music industry, as they did with their latest release, In Rainbows. Ever the outsiders, the move allows Radiohead to bypass “the man” completely — the album won't show up on any chart lists, no one will tell them to release a catchy first single (as if they’d do that anyways), and, lest we forget, all the money will go straight to them. It’s a musical coup d’├ętat.
     But don’t think such corporate freedom translates to a breezier attitude for Thom Yorke and his band. Nope, they’re still as gloomy as ever. “Don’t get any big ideas,” Yorke warns on “House of Cards,” “they're not going to happen.” And even on what might be considered a ballad, the gripping “All I Need,” love is but a prison: “I’m an animal / trapped in your car / I am all the days that you choose to ignore.”
     In Rainbows is being described by many as Radiohead’s most accessible work, and it’s certainly their most organic. Acoustic guitars, lonely piano riffs and real drums have replaced the wall of electro sound that Radiohead has been building over their last several albums. It’s surprisingly heartfelt, too: both “House of Cards” and “Nude” begin with lilting falsetto lines as Yorke channels his inner soul singer, and closer “Videotape” is the album’s most stirring moment, with Yorke contemplating his final moments at the Pearly Gates on “the most perfect day I've ever seen” — all reminders that even the lead singer of rock music’s most important band is human too. A-
Radiohead: All I Need (mp3)
Radiohead: Videotape (mp3)

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