Just like any other elitist music writer out there, I like Radiohead. I bought OK Computer in ninth grade and listened to it a week straight while I was sick from school. I loved it, as did pretty much all of us. Each album since has been a resounding triumph in the eyes of even the most fickle fans.
What’s eating me about In Rainbows is the sentiment I get that we’ve been cheated. We the fans haven’t been conned per se; we didn’t have to wait for a label to deem it worthy of release. But the whole pricing gambit and the album’s rushed-out release seem a bit conspicuous, a little too slick, like there was dough behind it. These weird viral-net things have been all the rage lately. Was all this just a clever way to put out leftovers disguised as groundbreaking new material? We waited through a Thom Yorke solo album and almost four years of silence for this? On the plus side, fans didn’t have to spend almost a month to hear from David Fricke about its flaws – by last Wednesday morning, the fandom world already had judged for itself.
After a week of absorption, I have my assessment: In Rainbows is not a horrible album. It’s not lackluster. It seems to me that it’s their first album that is merely a serviceable RH album. I won’t go as far to say it’s stereotypical; it’s just a tad obvious for them. But still, there are tracks that jump out and hit you. Take “Bodysnatchers,” for instance. It’s got that tired restless feeling for just that right time before dawn. And I’ve never heard Thom Yorke be as overtly sexual as on “House of Cards.” Dude totally wants to do you.
Eh, I’m sure this record will hit me like a ton of hung-over bricks on some stretch of highway. And my prickly first impression will go out the window. But here’s some Radiohead of yore… - Craig Hlavaty