Wednesday, November 07, 2007

In Rainbows

Having lived with In Rainbows for almost a month now, I can tell you one thing that might not be exactly earth-shattering.

Radiohead knows what they're doing when the make a record.

You could wish they did it a little more often -- it's been 3 years since Hail To The Thief -- but in one way or another they always seem to make it worth the wait.

Maybe it's just a hangover from the fabulous final episode of Mad Men, but the dominant emotion of this record seems to be the subject of Don Draper's emotional Kodak pitch: nostalgia.

Not overtly, of course, but this record is deeply suffused with a knowledge of and a feeling for the past 45 years of pop music, all filtered through a solid grounding in their own canon. They're not going to directly ape anyone else, but the Revolver-era Beatles vibe in the riff on "Bodysnatchers," or the Lamb Lies Down-era Genesis vibe on "Weird Fishes" are but a couple of examples of how this record serves to fuse past and present. The closest recent analogy is Beck's Sea Change, which seamlessly updated an early-70s feel to the 21st century.

Pulling it all together, of course, is Thom Yorke's voice, one of the most distinctive, divisive and, yes, beautiful instruments in music today. Much like Neil Young's voice divided the faithful from the unwashed in the '70s, Yorke's falsetto splits today's scene like Heston's staff.

Worth £4? To economists, maybe not. To me, most definitely.


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