inspirato

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Bizarre dream this morning. It was some time into the future, and I had become a P. Diddy-esque hip-hop overlord, and I was at a party celebrating the release of my latest hit single, "Here Come Tha Bootyoop."

So, In Rainbows.

I feel bad about what I'm going to say. It's easier for me to point out the flaws on this album than to be able to express what makes it wonderful. And it really is a wonderful album; I'm about 6 or 7 listens in and it gets better every time. I'm just not that great a writer.

A stupid way to look at it (which, of course, I'm all for) is in terms of a Beatles analogy. If The Bends could be construed as their Rubber Soul/Revolver (a dramatic transformation from a one-hit wonder* to a genuinely innovative force), and Ok Computer as their Sgt. Pepper (earth-shattering, seminal moment in history), and Kid A/Amnesiac as their White Album (sprawling, experimental)... well, the analogy fails because I don't know where that would put Hail To the Thief. But In Rainbows is starting to feel more and more, to me, like Abbey Road; a mature, thoughtful masterpiece, where the studio wizardry takes something of a backseat to the songs themselves.

Certainly, it's a grower; after my first listen I was actually somewhat disappointed, although "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi" instantly became one of my favorite Radiohead songs of all time (and not just because it sounds a lot like a Good Evening song that we'd never written). But I've found it hard to listen to anything else over the last few days - which sucks, because I really wanted to be able to listen to the new Band of Horses album.

If there's one real problem with it, it's the drums. Phil Selway has never been that spectacular a drummer, but here he's pretty much reduced to drum loops, and when he's actually playing, his parts sound like they were composed by guitarists (which they probably were, for all we know). For a band that clearly takes their time and really focuses on the smallest details, it sounds to me like Thom had just thrown up some temp loops while they were screwing around, the band got used to them, and they just left them as is. But then again, Radiohead has always been about sound, not rhythm.

There's also quite a bit on the album that sounds obviously derivative, at least to me. The second half of "Jigsaw Falling Into Place" (well, starting at 1:43) sounds straight out of a Broken Social Scene album; "Reckoner" sounds like Talk Talk; at the end of "House of Cards", Thom's falsetto sounds like Bono.

"Weird Fishes/Arpeggi", though... man. I can't get enough of it. And yeah, it sounds a lot like the stuff Good Evening was working on before we called it quits; Mike writes a lot of guitar parts that have descending three-note patterns, and the three of us would spend hours and hours coming up with ways for all three of our guitars to be interlocking like that. (Good Evening wouldn't have existed without Radiohead, of course; certainly we did a lot of things that directly aped what they did. I'm just saying; the similarities are uncanny.)

When I've not been listening to In Rainbows, I've been going back and listening to Kid A, Amnesiac and HTTT, and those albums actually sound even better than they did before. (Thom's "The Eraser", however, sounds positively naked in comparison.)

*I'm not saying the Beatles were a one-hit wonder before Rubber Soul, obviously.
if you want to give Ringo less, that's up to you
"All I Need" is my favorite track. I can't stop listening.

Funny, I thought the (live) drumming was really good on this album.
Re: if you want to give Ringo less, that's up to you
I like "All I Need", too; that's an interesting song. The first time I heard it, I was actually kinda irritated by the first minute or so, but when it explodes near the end it's absolutely glorious.
"Nude" has really become my early favorite. It reminds me in tone, though not necessarily execution, of "Like Spinning Plates". A more subdued, organic version.

Ditto to mgrasso on "All I Need". For me, it's all in the piano progression. It's fantastic.
Ditto on both counts. I fell in love with "Nude" back when it was a live bootleg called, appropriately enough, "Big Ideas"...I'd had the mp3 for years before they performed a chunk of it when I saw them at Red Rocks in 2003. This version of it is really, really good.
all i need and bodysnatchers were the two standouts when i saw them in san diego over the summer. it gave me the "holy shit, this album needs to come out NOW!" feeling. then i tracked down the vids people posted on youtube of their world tour, and they're still my favorites. i haven't downloaded the album yet (i plan to this weekend), but i hope the energy in songs like those remains potent.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSGUg0YN5Kw&feature=PlayList&p=226F1D69EE4DE0DA&index=0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YL203b6be4o&feature=PlayList&p=226F1D69EE4DE0DA&index=1
In concert, the one thing that strikes me about the band is how good the rhythms are. The songs come to life even more.