the take

‘In Rainbows’: Radiohead Returns to Rock

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Radiohead’s In Rainbows launched today as a pay-what-you-want download. Is this Radiohead’s best album in years? Or does it sound like the work of bunch of guys who don’t even care enough to make people pay for their music? Lane Brown and Nick Catucci, Vulture’s rock-and-roll peanut gallery, weigh in.

Lane: So, we’ve both just finished listening to In Rainbows. First things first: How much did you pay for it?
Nick: $0.00, which is a lot of money in pounds.
Nick: You?
Lane: Nothing for this download, because I actually ordered the $82 box set, which is weird because I haven’t paid for music since 2003.
Nick: That’s funny, I haven’t listened to Radiohead since 2003.
Lane: Also, I don’t even own a turntable — or a CD player.

Lane: Excellent … So what do you think of this album?
Nick: Well, one of my pet peeves in music is when a band claims to have made a “soundtrack to an imaginary film.” Who even wants to listen to a soundtrack when it’s actually built around a movie?
Nick: And I can’t help but feel that what we have on our hands here is the soundtrack to an imaginary film.
Lane: Really? What kind of movie do you think this is?
Nick: I’m not sure, but I could imagine Bryce Dallas Howard in the starring role. Like her, it’s very pretty, kind of creepy.
Lane: Well, sure, it’s no Superbad.
Nick: And yet there’s that classic Radiohead thematic unity: Thom Yorke’s all about how the center will not hold.
Nick: And as usual, these songs sound, very intentionally, like they’re barely holding together.
Lane: Agreed … I’m not sure if it’s the low quality of the MP3s or my headphones, but half of it sounds recorded on laptop and the other at Abbey Road or something.
Nick: The question is, How will it sound in a dorm room?
Nick: I’ll say this — Windows Media Player sure makes some interesting patterns to accompany it!
Lane: Okay, so you’re not a Radiohead fan. But where would you place this in their discography? Do you dislike this as much as you disliked Kid A?
Nick: Kid A was lush and inspired in a way that I’m not getting from In Rainbows.
Nick: That said, they now seem less afraid of a good (rock, not techno) beat.
Lane: I was going to mention the beats on this album … I’m really impressed. I feel like there’s enough here for at least half of Kanye’s next mix tape.
Nick: I’d say that Kanye would be on to the next thing, but I don’t think he’ll find anyone whiter than Thom Yorke.
Lane: This album is full of real rock songs. This is probably the most straightforward thing they’ve done since … I don’t know, The Bends, probably.
Lane: No electronica interludes or synthesizer malfunctioning.
Nick: And how does that make you feel?
Lane: I guess I like it. It’s pretty accessible, whereas their previous three albums have taken a few listens to sink in.
Nick: I feel like we’re hearing from the same Thom Yorke who wrote “Creep.” There’s this line from “All I Need”: “I’m an animal trapped in your hot car.”
Lane: Yeah, he’s definitely still miserable. I wonder how many $80 box sets he’d have to sell before he started writing songs in a major key.
Nick: Or how few MP3s for a quid …
Lane: Someone just told me that “Bodysnatchers” rips the melody from “Within Without You.”
Nick: NME’s thinks “Faust Arp” sounds lke “Blackbird.”
Lane: It sounds a lot like “Julia” to me.
Nick: So Radiohead are the new … Oasis?
Lane: A friend of mine says his download link crashed his computer and he e-mailed for help and they sent him a new link in under a minute.
Lane: I don’t think Oasis put that much attention into customer service.

‘In Rainbows’: Radiohead Returns to Rock