Don’t dread new Radiohead

A little hesitant to give In Rainbows a listen at first-as nothing can ever be so great as OK Computer-I finally gave in to my curiosity. My attention was first grasped by the rippling sounds, then the dynamic piano chords, and later the frustration pronounced by the guitar. However, not until I reached “Reckoner” did I completely fall in love with this album. In Rainbows meets the high standard set by previous records and sustains the Radiohead legacy. Opening with “15 Step”, Radiohead sets the pace of the whole album. The listener is given a preview of everything that is about to come – some tragedy, a few parts of happiness, and fast-paced frustration. As soon as Thom Yorke’s signature voice is heard, you know you’re in Radiohead-land. The guitar vibrates like waves in a puddle, yet the drumbeat ceases to feel emotion. A synth is established; listening to lyrics is almost unnecessary – you’re able to acquire a meaning solely by listening to the fuse of the instruments. “15 Step” builds frustration, but then again, what song by Radiohead doesn’t? “Bodysnatchers” pursues the confusion of the previous track, however, the confusion of Yorke’s voice and that of the guitar is perhaps a little too much. This song is discontinuous and busy, but when it is over, something about it appeals to me and I long to hear it again. “Nude” alters the atmosphere a bit, entering calmer grounds. This Flaming Lips-esque track can’t be enjoyed to its full extent without headphones. You need the music right in your ears to receive the full dynamic effect, to implant it in your mind. A song such as this is in its own way melodic and beautiful, one that could perhaps appear in a love dream. I imagine drifting off to sleep with this tune… In the midst of the many robotic arpeggios in “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi,” I am stumbled with surprise when the song ends, since I noticed no climax in this somewhat generic piece. However, the next “All I Need” soothes me back into love with this album, as it is one of the best songs. Immediately, I feel the bass making passionate harmony with the low-toned octaves on the piano. As higher notes are hit, everything begins to come together: the clashing cymbals and eager piano merge with high-pitched violins somewhere far in the distance. The lyrics start to come across with the point, coalescing with this climactic harmony and telling me, “you’re all I need.” As I previously mentioned, “Reckoner” captivated me immediately. Why? Maybe it’s the melancholy guitar riffs, or the agony of the voice that create a somber, cloudy environment. It’s as if he’s wishing and hoping for something impossible. Then the howls stop – a changing realization occurs. Violins enrich the piece, concluding the uncompromising tone and sending out a message of agony. Besides a slight hint of betrayal and separation, I’m still only vaguely aware of exactly what this song is about. Regardless, “Reckoner” is hypnotic, intense and stands out among the songs. “House of Cards” reels back to a somewhat positively romantic ambience. “I don’t wanna be your friend/I just wanna be your lover,” he hums peacefully. The background howls sound like a My Morning Jacket tribute, if you ask me. Wrapping up the album with a slow, confessing “Videotape,” it is easy to develop attachment and empathy for the circumstance. “You are my center when I spin away… This is my way of saying goodbye/because I can’t do it face to face.” A longing piano resonates back and forth, underlining a theme of abandonment and death. Twisting and turning emotions through the tracks, Radiohead once again gets down to business: creating abstract music that is full of affection and unknown desire. In Rainbows certainly meets expectations, and I think any other Radiohead fan would agree.