(Quick Recap first) After the slightly anxious Pablo Honey and the joyous stadium depression of The Bends, Radiohead gradually pushed their own musical boundaries out in earnest. Ok Computer was complex and deep, quite adventurous for a chart topping album and then, for a lot of people, the anticipated releases of Kid A and Amnesiac were a bit too far "out there" with some unfamiliar soundscapes and absence of good old fashioned guitars. Hail to the Thief returned to the realm of Ok Computer, but with a few ponderous and (pardon me) downright boring tracks.
A few more years further on, and the echoes and flavours of all that previous work is evident on In Rainbows. IN A GOOD WAY.
The album is a great collection of tracks. Beautiful chiming guitar work, *fantastic* vocal melodies and arrangements, all with a kind of 'organic' electronic undertone to most of the songs (I hope that makes sense). Each song has depth, progression, and a lot of emotion. Each one delivers something to the listener that makes you feel 'in' the music. Each one has small changes, subtle alterations in instrumental or melody that gently grab you by the ears and make you think "yes - this is how great music is written".
It's rare that an album from a band as well known and well revered as Radiohead can sound so familiar, yet so fresh. I was absolutely delighted on first listen, and continue to be delighted with each recap further down the line. It's a culmination of years of skill and imagination from a bunch of brave musicians. All elements of the previous albums are harmoniously mixed in a kaleidascope of engaging and absorbing songs.
They sowed the seeds of invention a few years ago now. But now we are lucky to be reaping the rewards of all that hard work. Reviews probably don't get more arsey than that - but I genuinely love this album that much.
I think In Rainbows is Radiohead's finest work.