Thursday, October 11, 2007

“In Rainbows.”

As the first new album released while I’ve had my appropriately titled “Scatterbrain” blog running, I feel it’s my duty to post a thorough review of “In Rainbows” that lives up to my blog name (for those of you who are unaware, “Scatterbrain” is the title of a fine Radiohead song). Ultimately I don’t think I can form an objective review of a Radiohead album since I love the band so much, but I’ve thought about it, and have decided I don’t care. You can read my biased review and like it!

Typically when I obtain a new album by any group, even Radiohead, it takes quite a while for me to warm up to it. Well, not this album. I’m not sure what it is about it – it’s easy to listen to. It’s not particularly hard or soft, vibrant or sleepy, but unlike many albums for which I’d think of the same general characteristics, it’s incredibly intoxicating. It grabs you from beginning to end and submerges you in layer upon layer of aural satisfaction that tickles your eardrums until you shiver and collapse in a pile of warm goo.

Take, for example, the album’s biggest shocker, “Reckoner.” The song debuted years ago at Redrocks Ampitheater in Seattle – in fact, I believe that was the only performance of the song ever (verified here – 58 Hours) – as a guitar-driven, hard-edged stomper. Imagine my surprise when I queued up the song and heard a cymbal-driven, multi-layered, falsetto-crooned, symphonic dream that made the original sound like a distant, inferior memory.

I often have debates with people about the definition of “good” music – is there such a quality? Is a simple pop song featuring the repetitive hooks that Timbaland creates “good”? Does a song have to have complex lyrics to be “good”? What the hell does this have to do with “In Rainbows”? The song “All I Need,” although it might not be as “good” as many other Radiohead songs in its depth or construction, has already become an instant classic for me, and probably my favorite song on the album. Sweet, simple lyrics, driven by a steady beat that ends in a crash of cymbals that is so amazing that lasts just long enough to give you a taste, but then abruptly stops, making you want to listen to it again to feel the rush. It distinctly reminds me of “Lightning Crashes” by Live, another song I like for similar reasons.

At the end of the album, we have the gentle piano-driven “Videotape,” one of those classic Radiohead songs where you can’t figure out whether it’s uplifting or depressing, but to dwell on said question would be missing the point. It’s fantastic. And how’s this for a closer?

No matter what happens now

You shouldn't be afraid

Because I know today has been the most perfect day I've ever seen.

As we approach the end of the album, we hear distant shadows of the bleeps and flicks that gave tracks like “Idioteque” from Hail to the Theif their hard edge. But just as you think they are about to come crashing down on you, they instead gently fade away, compelling you to return to track 1 and take another trip down the rainbow.

***

Dear reader, in case you come from a faraway land and aren’t one of my friends or family that regularly read Scatterbrain, here is where I remind you that this album is FREE. Go get it.

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