In Rainbows was released to everyone in October 2007. It’s now nearing the end of July 2008 and it’s safe to say that all the fanboys have long since written their reviews, the hype of the “it’s up to you” price point has drifted off into space, and the critics have moved on to trash the latest new releases. In Rainbows could be seen as one of the highest points of 2007 music releases, but how does it hold up months later when no one is talking about it and you don’t score points for having the album on your ipod?
Radiohead’s latest album does more than hold its own. The opening seconds of 15 Step set the mood: minimal layering and simple arrangements allow the vocals and drums to take center stage in the haunting soundtrack. This isn’t your traditional haunting – Bodysnatchers reminds again – This is speeding down the highway, alone with your windows down, no sound but the rippling wind tearing past your ears. The sense of urgency builds at the first crash of the drums. Yet in the same way you lose the sense of speed, the slowdown at Nude doesn’t feel wrong, it feels like a strange out of body experience. The feeling of urgency builds while Thom Yorke’s vocals become softer and softer through the back tracks, almost like you’ve taken your foot off the peddle and coasting along at 120 MPH with your eyes closed. Jigsaw Falling Into Place picks up the cold, empty feeling by building the speed and volume back up to the previous highs. Videotape closes out the album softly.
Not because there should be more tracks (there are eight more on the bonus disc that provide a little more meat to the album), but after listening to In Rainbows, I’m more aware of all the little sounds: the hum of the optical drive in the powerbook, the airplane flying by a thousand feet above, the scratching of a mouse near a fern outside my window. Once the vacuum of sound that emits a blaring empty feeling has been cut off, suddenly the world start to fill the space. The click-clack of the keyboard, and bam – the music I was just listening to starts to play in my head. The rustle of a muffled car engine hums at the right tone and a few bars of Bodysnatchers play in your head. I smile as the more I try to escape the uncontrolled sounds that fill our days – the more they invade.