Elster's World

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Elster Reviews - In Rainbows

We interrupt our regularly scheduled Sports Blog for a slice of pop culture.

Instead of writing another lament regarding the Jets quarterback non-controversy or the utter silliness of the Mets firing Omar Minaya and replacing his with ...... Joe Torre????, I am going to be dropping a few non-sports related topics on my legions of readers every so often. And I will be introducing a new feature at Elster's World - Elster Reviews - where I, well where I review stuff. Up first, Radiohead's newest effort, In Rainbows. As soon as the wife and I finish ripping through season one of Friday Night Lights, I'll get that up as well.

On positive to a long train ride to and from work is that, when I don't have anything good to read, there is plenty of time to get lost in my Ipod. So when the Radiohead album became available on October 10th, I waited for the initial barrage of people and then grabbed it the following Sunday.

Now anyone who reads Elster's World knows I think Radiohead is the most important, and best, band of the last 20 years (and yes I know this is a very arguable position, I just choose not to argue it).

Either way, the band has not released an album since Hail to the Thief back in 2003 and fans have been chomping at the bit, or at least logging on to YouTube so see more of their favorite band. And finally, almost four years in the making (and after a number of false promises and threats that the band was done recording), out came In Rainbows.

So how does it stack up? Well for starters, like all their albums since 1995's The Bends, it takes multiple listenings to really have an opinion. Radiohead's music is intricate and, with some exceptions, it isn't something easily digested. In Rainbows is no exception. However, once you have digested it, it's a wonderful addition to the Radiohead catalogue.

In Rainbows is a sorta, kinda return to Radiohead's earlier, more guitar/instrument driven sound, yet it continues to push the envelope with new sounds (including a chorus of school children at one point on the first song, 15 Step). Each listen gives you something you missed the time before, and what else can you really ask for in an album. except good music of course, of which there is plenty.

The music starts off with 15 Step, currently my second favorite song on the album. It has a snazzy beat and a very interesting guitar backing. It's followed by the crunches of Bodysnatchers and the first dirgy song, Nude. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi seems to be the most talked about song, the one fans have been quick to compare to Paranoid Android, off of 1997's Ok Computer (for the way it mixes two songs into one) and it's way out there.

All I Need is the perfect anti-companion song to Ok Computer's Climbing Up The Walls (a sane companion if you will) and Faust Arp is a folksy little number backed by what sounds like a series of strings. It's very different and a nice listen.

Reckoner follows. I am at a loss to describe my personal favorite track on this album. It's just...great. Thom York, who seems to be able to sound like a dozen different people (the first time I listened to The Bends, I thought I heard U2's Bono and the guy from Smashing Pumpkins) sounds just beautiful on this song. The backing music is terrific, the shift in the middle is lovely ("Because we separate......it ripples our reflections......(in rainbows)").

House of Cards and Jigsaw falling Into Place are two fine tracks which just get lost among all of the solid pieces here. And Radiohead brings its depressing best on the final track, Videotape, which closes things off nicely ("This is my way of saying goodbye.......Because I can't do it face to face..........I'm talking to you after it's too late.........From my videotape") .

On the whole, In Rainbows plays much more like an album than its predecessor, Hail to the Thief did. It is much more similar that way to Kid A (not a real favorite of mine) or Amnesiac. A second disc with additional songs is available for people wanting to spend serious cash, but the album itself rings...complete... just the way it is. All in all, a very enthusiastic thumbs up.


  • If you want to review an artist that matters, take a stab at Bruce Springsteen's latest.

    By Blogger Jewboy, at 4:13 PM  

  • Heheheh Jewboy you young Fuddyduddy. Springsteen doesn't "matter" anymore except to old people. Oh and maybe you :)

    How come you stopped writing?

    By Blogger Elster, at 5:43 PM  

  • Check my blog. The Boss rules.

    By Blogger Jewboy, at 8:45 PM  

  • Excellent review! I liked reading it; It was almost like really being there.

    Besides, with a little positive reenforcement, maybe you'll post on pop more often!

    By Anonymous Sara, at 9:16 PM  

  • JB - Funny, I definately checked this afternoon.

    Sara - Welcome back

    By Blogger Elster, at 11:48 PM  

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