Radiohead - In Rainbows [Self Released - 2007]In Rainbows is getting a huge amount of press due to the fact that the band have decided to let the audience set the price to download the album, prior to its release in stores. A pricey deluxe edition box is available as well.
The idea has been done before, on a much more modest scale, by Aranos, an artist most notable for his collaborations with Nurse With Wound, who sent out CD's, then asked that the listener send him what they felt the music was worth. A couple other artists, most notably Prince, have experimented with the idea of free downloads, in a limited format, as well. This move by Radiohead is significant for obvious reasons; Radiohead are a hugely popular band who sell lots of albums. There's a certain joy to be gleaned in the fact that this album has already "sold" over 1.2 millions copies, the profits of which will not go into some greedy record company's hands. Between now and the time an "official" release hits the stores, it's a fairly sure bet that anyone who wants this album, and owns a computer will have it already. The rabid fans who crave artifacts will have the box by then as well.
Since anyone who wants to hear this album can, in a few minutes time, do so for little or no cash, there's no point in presenting a belaboured review of In Rainbows. Many in the underground scene have looked sceptically upon Radiohead in recent years. It's hard to know whether it's simply due to their popularity, or because they take some concepts from underground music and present them within the context of a more straightforward, homogenized sound. In Rainbows marks a return in some measure to the "rock" Radiohead of OK Computer era, as the songs are more traditionally structured and guitar oriented. There's also quite a few songs with string orchestration (or synthetic orchestration). There are definitely elements of electronica left over from the Kid A era as well, and the subject matter touches on some familiar themes, such as alienation and paranoia. In Rainbows is undeniably Radiohead's most assured album since Kid A, because the songwriting isn't nearly as sketchy as the last couple. If you have anything more than a passing interest in the band, you will not be dissapointed.Erwin Michelfelder