First impressions are pretty damn good. It’s dreamy, eerie, epic, soaring, soothing, very occasionally manic... and more.
First things first. A credit card ‘service fee’ of 45 olde English pennies aside, hotpress paid a grand total of absolutely nada into Radiohead’s much discussed ‘honesty box’ for downloading In Rainbows.
It’s an interesting idea and all, but sorry, we just don’t pay for review copies round these parts. No exceptions. Anyway, while Bono and Bob are working hard to Make Poverty History, with their innovative but risky ‘pay whatever you think it’s worth’ approach Radiohead seem to be doing their damnedest to Make Record Companies History. Certainly this is one of the first ever albums to get serious coverage in the Financial Times.
Many music fans will undoubtedly applaud their sticking it to ‘The Man’ like this, but, unfashionable and all as it is to praise the major corporations, it’s worth noting that, without solid support from EMI over their previous six albums, Radiohead would never have been in a position to pull off this stunt.
Apparently 1.2 million people downloaded it on the day of its release, but it’s still too early to tell just how big their eventual pot of gold at the end of In Rainbows will be. If mega-wealthy acts like U2 or Madonna tried this approach, they’d undoubtedly get royally screwed by a public that thinks they’re obscenely-rich enough already, thanks very much. Radiohead certainly aren’t in that financial league, but they’re still millionaires. They may yet regret calling their last album Hail To The Thief.
But enough about their sales strategy. What’s In Rainbows actually like? Well, come on, it’s a Nigel Godrich-produced Radiohead album and it took them almost three years to make (during which time they apparently seriously countenanced splitting up). What the fuck do you think it’s like?
Needless to say, fans won’t be disappointed. There may even be some converts. With Radiohead, nowadays, it’s never really a question of ‘is it any good?’ Instead you ask, ‘how good is it?’ The answer here is ‘extremely’.
In an interview done during the recording, Yorke described the album’s lyrical themes thus: “It’s about that anonymous fear thing, sitting in traffic thinking, ‘I’m sure I’m supposed to be doing something else’... It’s similar to OK Computer in a way. It’s much more terrifying. But OK Computer was terrifying too – some of the lyrics were.”
Whatever about the lyrical themes (which are as vague as ever), musically it’s nowhere near as guitar-heavy as OK Computer (which occasionally touched on pure grunge). Nor is it as clinical, cold or experimental as Kid A. From the opening atmospherics of ‘15 Step’ (a dirty clatter of electronic drumbeats and an urgent lyric), though, it’s instantly recognisable as a Radiohead album.
On first few listens to these 10 markedly different songs, it’s a surprisingly mellow, jazzy, ambient affair, with lots of strange electronica, soaring instrumentals, scattered drums, the occasional noisy blast of chunky guitars and an unsteady stream/scream of Yorke’s unique falsettos and occasionally indecipherable vocals. He sounds like he left much of his angst behind on his solo record.
There’s even a love song, of sorts, in the creepy ‘All I Need’: “I’m an animal trapped in your parked car/I am all the days that you choose to ignore... I am a moth who just wants to share your light/I’m just an insect trying to get out of the night.”
Hardcore fans will recognise some of the songs showcased on last year’s tour, including the primal ‘Bodysnatchers’ and the epic ‘Videotape’. ‘Reckoner’ and ‘Nude’ hark back even further (‘Reckoner’ was first played live in 2001).
The sum of its parts? Well, I’ve often found with past Radiohead albums that, as you gradually notice all the attention to detail, the tiny little bursts and squiggles, the songs that initially stand out eventually pale against the ones you’d first pegged as filler.
Given that, right now I genuinely can’t tell whether In Rainbows is a masterpiece or not. It’s certainly a masterpiece of marketing, but it’ll take weeks to discover if it’s actually great or just a load of sonic smoke and musical mirrors. But first impressions are pretty damn good. It’s dreamy, eerie, epic, soaring, soothing, very occasionally manic... and more.
For the purposes of this review, I’ve been listening to it in a darkened room with rain lashing off the windows. I’m looking forward to donning headphones and taking it out for a long walk in the countryside. I hope and suspect that, like much of their work, its true greatness will only reveal itself over time.
So a priceless album – maybe in more ways than one. But pay them a fair price for it.
The South African social activist said, “Please do what artists did in South Africa’s era of oppression: stay away, until apartheid is over.”Read More
Whether the purchasers get in is an entirely different matter...Read More
Purchasers' names will be printed on tickets & photo ID demandedRead More
The world's biggest indie band had already announced a Glastonbury appearance. Now they are coming to Ireland, as part of a European jaunt...Read More
The Hollywood filmmaker is famous for directing There Will Be Blood and Boogie Nights.Read More
Avid fans and collectors will be dying to get their hands on this precious releaseRead More
At NYC's Madison Square GardenRead More
An attack on the launch party for A Moon Shaped Pool lead to protests – and an aggressive response from the policeRead More
It will include a day long stream from the band.Read More
The song last played live by the group seven years ago.Read More
The video for their newest single is a breach of copyright according to the son-in-law of Trumpton creator Gordan Murray.Read More
Rock heroes enter at the summitRead More
The long-time producer explains why it was an intense experience working on 'A Moon Shaped Pool'Read More
It may not be up there with their very best albums, but – with hints of Ariel Pink, Boards of Canada and Vangelis on display – Thom Yorke and the boys have once again produced something very special with their highly anticipated new album, A Moon Shaped PoolRead More
The Oxford rockers are back again with a new video and their new album will be available digitally this SundayRead More
The new clip features an anxious looking Thom YorkeRead More
'Burn The Witch' goes on digital sale at midnightRead More
Thom Yorke & Co. return with 'Burn The Witch'Read More
Thom Yorke and co. are hitting the road - but there's bad news for lots of fans - Irish includedRead More
We like it a whole lot better than Sam Smith's effort!Read More
Just when we were sure it was Ellie Goulding...Read More
Having famously snubbed Spotify...Read More
Phil Selway also discussed his band's own "experiment" with In Rainbows.Read More
'Spooks', a track that has previously only been played live by Radiohead, is part of the sountrack to Paul Thomas Anderson's upcoming film, Inherent Vice.Read More
Thom Yorke confirms sessions are underway.Read More
Paul Williams will also submit original material for The Book Of Life.Read More
Jonny Greenwood says rehearsing and recording will commence in the coming months.Read More
Jonny Greenwood's new orchestral compositionRead More
On Trinity Street repeat today is Radiohead: Live At Tramps, June 1, 1995, New York City.Read More
By their usual standards, last year’s eighth Radiohead studio album The King Of Limbs was greeted by a collective shrug of indifference. Now, Yorkie and the boys really mean business, belatedly hitting the road to stake the claim that TKOL is in fact a seriously strong slow-burner.Read More
Tragedy strikes before final gig of North American tourRead More
Starring Radiohead, Snoop Dogg, REM, Zola Jesus, Bjork, Ryan Adams, DJ Shadow and more...Read More
Downloads and streamable treats from Santigold, Radiohead, Lykke Li, Interpol and more!Read More
The publication ties in with the release of new album The King Of LimbsRead More
Sci-Fi Chamber Music As Imagined By KubrickRead More
We've had it on repeat all day, and here's the verdict!Read More
The King of Limbs released this SaturdayRead More
You can download the video on a pay-what-you-want basisRead More
Radiohead fans rock. Here are some of the things they do...Read More
Live pictures from Radiohead's first Malahide Castle gig last weekend, July 6.Read More
Radiohead have added a special section to their website designed to help fans going to see them this summer reduce their carbon footprints.Read More
California beatmaker Amplive has been given the all clear to make his Radiohead remix album available as a free download.Read More
From Radiohead to Springsteen, the twelve months ahead are already packed with highlights. But will Led Zeppelin be among the group’s hitting the comeback trail?Read More
Rock ‘n’ roll sedition isn’t the only topic on the agenda as Radiohead talk family, Harry Potter and vomiting members of Ash.Read More
Radiohead have added another date in Malahide Castle next June due to demand, after the first show was a sell-out.Read More
Tickets for Radiohead's Dublin show have gone on sale on the band's official website, ahead of the announced date.Read More
As predicted on hotpress.com earlier this week, Radiohead have confirmed a June 7 2008 show in Dublin’s Malahide Castle.Read More
With 'In Rainbows' scheduled for a January release and a 2008 tour in the offing Radiohead have talked to Hot Press.Read More
Radiohead are set to kick off their 2008 European tour in Dublin.Read More
Radiohead have signed a new record deal for the physical distribution of their album In RainbowsRead More
Massive interest in Radiohead's new album has caused problems for the band's website.Read More
As if Beck’s brilliance wasn’t enough, Radiohead deliver an absolutely stunning set that puts the efforts of Coldplay, Keane, Muse and the million other pretenders to their throne into utterly unforgiving perspective.Read More
In the week Radiohead announced the date of their show in Marlay Park, read a wealth of amazing writing about Probably The Best Band In The World.Read More
The mystery surrounding Radiohead's summer visit to Dublin is no more!Read More
Two much-anticipated acts will be making their way to Dublin in just a few month's time.Read More
Following on from his 2002 running of the London marathon to raise funds, for The Samaritans, Radiohead drummer Phil Selway continues to do his bit for the charity.Read More
Initially meant for a Japan-only release, Com Lag 2+2=5 has been made available over this side of the world to satisfy demand from Radiohead’s hugely loyal fanbase.Read More
Import alert! To coincide with their Japanese tour, Radiohead are releasing an album of remixes, rarities and b-sidesRead More
Dunno if there were too many Red Bulls in the backstage rider this evening, but something has given Thom Yorke wiiings. In fact, along with Thom’s frantic making-shapes-in-the-air dancing, there are many factors to indicate this is not a garden-variety Radiohead experience...Read More
With Radiohead, it’s all very simple…they rarely get it wrong.Read More
Radiohead announce second dateRead More
Radiohead announce yet another date at the PointRead More
Therapy? call for video bootleggers to submit their homemade films for inclusion on upcoming DVD releaseRead More
June 6 sees Radiohead's Colin Greenwood and Ed O'Brien spinning old faves, previewing newies and generally making with the conversation on BBC Radio Ulster's Across The LineRead More
No longer the nascent, impressionable - though hugely ambitious - young quintet who unleashed the blood-splattered masterpiece The Bends in the mid-'90s, nor the newly crowned kings of modern rock who enjoyed virtually unprecedented levels of acclaim circa-OK Computer, they have instead settled into a role as sort of latter-day alt. culture godfathersRead More
Check out these pics from the second date of Radiohead's two-night stand in Dublin's Olympia - plus the Sunday night setlistRead More
Extra Radiohead tickets are on sale for tonight's Belfast gigRead More
At approximately 8.55pm the lights go down and the Olympia wets itself, letting forth an orgasmic scream.Read More
Thom Yorke and co will headline the venue this DecemberRead More
Radiohead announce tour and new album deatilsRead More
The band's two Dublin Olympia gigs and their date in Belfast's Waterfront sell out within minutes...are we surprised?Read More
...in a beautiful rococo theatre: Radiohead's intimate club tour to include one or two-night stopoff at the OlympiaRead More
Radiohead to play The Waterfront in BelfastRead More
Karma Police [Parlophone]Read More
Intially conceived as the third single release from Amnesiac, the project gloriously mutated into another 40 minute goody bag akin to the extended Airbag/How Am I Driving? package.Read More
Hot Press can exclusively reveal that Radiohead are planning to rush release a live albumRead More
But there are a host of songs tonight which seem to make every bit as much eerie sense in the earliest days of this emergent post-Manhattan zeitgeistRead More
It is an extraordinary choice for a single, but then again Amnesiac is quite an extraordinary album from an utterly sublime band.Read More
Staying true to their post OK Computer resolution to minimise touring to a bare but intimate handful, Oxford’s most revered sons have chosen to play one single English date in 2001...Read More
From this end of the Radiohead telescope, all the hullabaloo about last year’s Kid-A was, quite frankly, unbelievable.Read More
Ice, ice, baby. The Columbia Glacier in Alaska has retreated nearly 13 kilometres since 1982. In 1999, its retreat rate increased from 25 metres per day to 35 metres per day.Read More
They are not a band you can either take or leave. This is music which forces the listener to commit him or herself totally and forever.Read More
Radiohead: “Planet Telex”/“High And Dry” (Parlophone)Read More