In Rainbows – Track by Track
A kind of skittering, broken beat “Take Five” opens the album. “You used to be alright, what went wrong? Et cetera et cetera…” sings Yorke, as though admitting this is by now pretty familiar Radiohead territory, before a sampled burst of cheering children brings an unexpected twist to the track.
“I have no idea what I’m talking about,” wails Yorke, over an urgent, surging distorted guitar riff, “I’m trapped in this body and I can’t get out”. The rockingest track on In Rainbows, it breaks down for a wonderful, gliding middle eight, before surging on to full-throttle finale.
Backwards strings and a celestial choir of Thom Yorkes clear to reveal a simple, bass and drum driven tune, as sweet a ballad as they’ve ever written. The closing lines – “You’ll go to hell for what your dirty mind is thinking” – introduce an unusually frank sexual theme to the album.
A brisk brush-beat, and dense Johnny Marr-esque mesh of multi-tracked arpeggios, glinting like sun off the sea, soundtrack Yorke’s descent to the bottom of the ocean (where he’s eaten by worms) and to the ends of the earth (where he falls off) in pursuit of escape.
“All I Need”
A buzz of prowling bass synth introduces a disturbingly obsessive stalker story masquerading as a love song, with lyrics – “I’m just an insect trying to get out of the night” – as though Howard Devoto had rewritten “Every Breath You Take”.
Seemingly inspired more by the hubristic myth (see also “Videotape”) than by the cantankerous Krautrockers, “Faust ARP” is like a bad dream version of a Nick Drake song: a simple, folksy acoustic figure overshadowed by ominous clouds of strings.
A hugely reverbed shuffle of drums and a sinister flourish of strings on the coda lend this track something of the quiet-storm intensity of Massive Attack’s “Unfinished Sympathy”. Mid-track the song breaks down to Thom Yorke’s falsetto, multitracked like the world’s creepiest choir.
“House of Cards”
The album’s stand-out track, a horse-latitude drift of flanged guitars, as though the Peter Green of “Albatross” had played on This Mortal Coil’s trawl through “Song To The Siren”. “I don’t want to be your friend, I just want to be your lover,” sings Yorke suddenly reinventing himself as some kind of surreal, cosmic soul boy.
“Jigsaw Falling Into Place”
A guitar figure similar to the start of “Paranoid Android”, “Jigsaw…” swells to a furious storm of acoustic arpeggios while Yorke appears to reprise the theme of romantic obsession.
Seemingly inspired by Goethe’s Faust (“Mephistopheles is just beneath, and he’s reaching up to grab me”), and its tale of a moment’s contentment entailing eternal torment, this is a locked groove of a piano hymn, closing the album in a looped shudder of percussion.
So. What do you think of In Rainbows? You’ve all received the download at the same time as us – email us your first impressions, and let us know if it was worth the price you paid for it.
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Track by Track by Stephen Trousse