In Rainbows

I’ve been on quite an In Rainbows kick this week. I’ve loved this album for a while now — it landed at #23 on my (somewhat outdated) “Best Albums of the Decade” list. But right now I really can’t stop listening to it, and I’m not typically someone who falls into obsessive listening habits. Maybe everything I’m about to say is old news to more diehard Radiohead fans than I (there are thousands–look at last.fm!), but I’m fascinated by — and becoming inclined to agree with — the argument that it might just be their best album. It’s certainly not their most “Important” album, as it doesn’t make the sweeping thematic statements that OK Computer and Kid A do (as does Hail to the Theif, albeit a little more clumsily), but I think it might be the best *music* they’ve recorded; music in the traditional, compositional sense. It practically shimmers with beauty and shows, I think, a near-total mastery of the compositional and recording processes. There’s so much going on in the mix on each song that could be musically analyzed, even though it’s relatively minimal. And except for, perhaps, “Videotape” (and maybe “Nude”), none succeeds in this graceful minimalism more than my current obsession, “House of Cards”. Maybe you think this song is overly simplistic (in Pitchfork’s review of the album they called it “the one weak link in the album’s chain”) but I think there’s something profoundly moving and incredibly alluring about it. For its five and a half minutes, it grants total immersion to its world.

If you haven’t seen the music video for it, which was filmed without cameras, you should absolutely check it out. But the video I want to attach here is the “Scotch Mist” version released by the band, from a series of filmed studio sessions posted on YouTube right around the time of the album’s release. It brings out the track’s minimalistic composition even more — there’s not much else besides Phil Selway’s slight, clicking drums; a soft, fluid baseline from Colin Greenwood; atmospherics from Ed O’Brien and Jonny Greenwood; that wonderful, metronomic guitar line and Thom’s jaw-dropping vocal performance. This is a band with a grasp on music that few have ever had, and it gets me extra excited about the prospect of an album release this year.

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~ by toren on February 10, 2011.

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