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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Album Review: “In Rainbows” by Radiohead

    Last year, English alternative rock band Radiohead released their seventh studio album “In Rainbows.” Online. For digital download and for a price they saw fit.

    As singer Thom Yorke put it in an interview with Wired Magazine, “The way we termed it was “our leak date.” Every record for the last four – including my solo record – has been leaked. So the idea was like, we’ll leak it, then.”

    An experiment turned success when, after it’s January 1st release, the album would soon find itself atop the Billboard 200 at #1, making history for the group. No fluke and nothing particularly creepy about that fact, as the record is a beauty from start to finish.

    What do you think of when you see rainbows? Springtime. Sun. Life. Beauty, perhaps, especially. Things like that. Now have a look at the album cover, and what it may call to mind may strike you as the opposite of the kind of imagery a rainbow is suppose to. Except for, perhaps, beauty. A complex and darker beauty than what’s expected. “In Rainbows” is just that. With a sound that never misses a beat as it blends rock, electronica, and classical arrangements, the rainbow image becomes all the more appropriate. In expression and emotion, it is colorful, rich, and yet dark.

    Each track brings it’s own nuances and complexities to bear, but they speak the same language. That of loneliness, isolation, and sensuality, and here Yorke writes songs of holding on, letting go, and not knowing where to turn amidst the weird fishes and falling houses of cards.

    One track, “Bodysnatchers,” would probably otherwise sound joyous if its words didn’t convey such confusion, and because of this the music is transformed into a fever dream of guitars and keyboards (Imagine the feeling of being caught in traffic, lost in the city on a sunny day).

    The later “All I Need,” with it’s brooding piano and strings, is an ode to unrequited love. Yorke writes, “I am the holidays / that you choose to ignore,” helping this to become one of the simpler, yet more moving tracks on the release.

    Radiohead seems to be adept at creating snapshots of feeling, and, with both lyrical prowess and technical expertise, they make sure that the image not only isn’t lost on you but stays with you. I mean, granted it can veer into more depressing territory – particularly with the song “Videotape” – , and if that isn’t your cup of tea, then that’s fine. For that reason alone, the album isn’t for everyone. Still, an exceptional album is an exceptional album, and “In Rainbows” deserves its praise.

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