Saturday, October 13, 2007

I Like Radiohead, But...

As appears in Tuesday's issue of The New School's newspaper, the New School Free Press:

The release of a new Radiohead CD is the closest thing our generation has to understanding what our parents felt eagerly awaiting the next Beatles album. The expectations are sky high and Thom, Colin, Jonny, Ed and Phil always have treated listeners to something great— even a flawed great like Hail to the Thief. In the case of In Rainbows, though, I couldn't help but feel let down.

Buying the album through their website for $5.25 (explained in further detail in "WTF, Thom?" on Page 14), I eagerly awoke the morning the album came out, downloaded it and was almost instantly let down.

Is it unwise to expect to hear another Kid A or OK Computer? Yes. Is it unfair? No. By that, I don't mean to say I want to hear "Subterranean Homesick Alien 2007," but I’m at least expecting to hear something solid, not the background music feel of Rainbows.

The album opens with "15 Step" and the lyric, "How come I end up where I started?/How come I end up where I went wrong?" The sound of the song seems to be Radiohead’s attempt at releasing a track that'll work on the dance floor. In whatever context it was meant to be, it doesn't work.

The guitar work of Jonny Greenwood and Ed O'Brien, normally providing a stellar complement to Thom's voice, doesn’t add much to the feel of the album—the sound is too synthetic, and on songs like "Bodysnatchers," the listener is left annoyed by the vocals.

The highlights of the album are the final two songs, "Jigsaw Falling Into Place" and "Videotape." To get to those, though, you have to listen to eight other tracks that don’t do much to further Radiohead’s reputation as one of the great bands of our time. Or, as Yorke sings on “Nude,” “Don’t get any big ideas/They’re not going to happen.”

Update: Radiohead sold 1.2 million copies of In Rainbows through the download program. Wow.

No comments: