There is a span of songs on the In Rainbows tracklist—starting with the song “Nude,” picking up steam in “Weird Fishes,” culminating in “All I Need,” and finally culminating again in “Reckoner”—that is probably my favorite collection of music ever. It is perfect. And though Radiohead is a polarizing band, with critics considering it the greatest band since The Beatles, while many casual listeners aren’t fans at all, this album is the legendary band’s most accessible one. But while many experts understandably call OK Computer Radiohead’s masterpiece (and one of the best albums ever), I still don’t know how you can beat In Rainbows.
In typical Radiohead fashion, this album blends subtleties and nuances seamlessly. Lead singer Thom Yorke’s falsetto is haunting, and his challenging lyrics pose new perspectives and thoughts each time you listen to the album. Jonny Greenwood’s guitar and keyboard work is excellent—but even more brilliant is his orchestral arrangements in songs like “All I Need” and “Reckoner.” They both begin softly, only to gradually build up before ending in crescendos. And Jonny has always been a prodigy. He built a computer and his own software programs to record In Rainbows, his work as a composer on it is indeed magnificent, and his ability to play dozens of instruments extremely well is shocking. Sure, everybody in Radiohead is a musical genius, but these two lead members stand out.
In Rainbows is the type of profound music that will age like fine wine for many generations. Radiohead pushes the barriers of music—rather than allowing itself to be pushed, to merely float along with the current. This sense of transcendence perspires throughout the work. To be fair, you can’t listen to it passively. The thing about this band is that it exists somewhere in the gray areas between ambient music, indie music, electronic music, and futuristic experimental music that can’t be categorized. It is not the Nirvana that society expected it to be after Radiohead’s hit song “Creep” achieved iconic status. This band is not a rock band per se; it is the Pink Floyd of its generation, one that is misunderstood and misconstrued so often.
Some other songs on this album that stand out to me are “15 Step,” “House of Cards,” and “Jigsaw Falling Into Place.” Then again, In Rainbows is more of a cohesive work, rather than an arbitrary collection of singles. And like a rollercoaster, the album cycles from one unique sound to another, from upbeat rock to nuanced orchestral music (though it cannot be trapped in the semantics of genres). It does so with a sense of wonder and curiosity and meticulousness that even Beethoven would admire. I know that people make fun of snobs for what they call the mindless showering of acclaim to Radiohead—but let me emphasize that this is my favorite band. I’ve waited a long time to review In Rainbows. I mean business. So plug in some nice headphones, clear your mind, and prepare for a sophisticated journey.
ppl sleep on jigsaw falling into place
In case anyone’s curious:
^Feel free to check out my review of OK Computer if you enjoyed my In Rainbows one!
Excellent review! In Rainbows is the album that got me into Radiohead. In fact, House of Cards is my second-most played song of the year so far (the top spot is taken by They Might Be Giants’ “Birdhouse in Your Soul” which I’ve had on repeat all year.) I agree with you on the insane talent of Jonny Greenwood. The man is a genius.
Love to see it. House of Cards is such an amazing song! And glad you agree on Jonny—what a genius/freak indeed!
Also, will check out “Birdhouse in Your Soul” then. Thanks for recommending!
End of Reckoner is perfection
Those last 40 seconds make me tear up everytime—LOVE the beautiful strings combined with the subtle synth work. Jonny Greenwood is truly a musical mastermind.
Definitely the best album of its decade, at least. Up there overall as well!
It’s one of those albums that every (or nearly every) music fan should appreciate. Hard to find stuff that could work magic on almost anyone, you know?
Naturally this post is how i found ur page. amazing stuff man, what a candid review of a perfect album
U going to review any other Radiohead stuff? Obviously id love that
Yep. Def going to review OK Computer at some point this year! Not sure if I’ll go for Kid A or AMSP or anything in the future but I might! Just don’t want to write too many reviews on the same band or artist, you know?
Oh and forgot to mention that I’ll DEFINITELY do some Radiohead song reviews, too. Probably going to review Talk Show Host and Pyramid Song. Maybe Spectre, Decks Dark, and/or Lotus Flower as well!
And thanks again, man! Perfect album indeed.
How about ease yourself in with Lurgee? And who doesn’t love this performance? I’m vaguely concerned about traumatizing you now!
Listening to Lurgee now!
Im kinda worried…
Ha I like it!
I’m glad I haven’t sent you into a depressive fug, wondering how on earth our boys made it through to make another record!
I like Lurgee. Very different than the Radiohead I’m used to, but that of course is so refreshing!
I am impressed that you would give the dreaded Pablo Honey a listen. It is a perfect little snapshot of a time in musical history, that cusp of the later 90s cool. Glad it isn’t too offputting! There is something almost Piper at the Gates of Dawn-like in it’s nursery rhyme vibe.
To be fair, Radiohead is literally my favorite band of all time like I was saying earlier, so it felt long overdue to give Pablo Honey a shot the way I did with ALL of their other albums lol.
Lets face it, within the Radiohead community, admitting you like Pablo Honey is like admitting you lick lamposts or something!
Also, love that you referenced Piper at the Gates of Dawn! Pink Floyd is my second favorite band ever haha.
Who doesn’t love the Floyd? I was almost as nervous admitting I loved PF, as I was about admitting I loved other women…it’s not a good look for a punk riot grrrrl! Dangerous even! Damn hippies!
And haha Pink Floyd rocks! Dark Side is one of my fav albums and Shine on You Crazy Diamond Pts. 1-5 is one of my top 5 fav songs!
OH that might be fun! Do you have a top 5 song list you can link me to? In solidarity with Syd, I can only stand in the back of the recording studio and watch wistfully before turning around and leaving muttering something about Astronomy Domine…
Yep! Will send now👌
It only sends me to your homepage?
Oh dang. The links aren’t working?
Nope! Just takes me to page one of your homepage. What is the post called? Ill find it!
Dang. I must’ve messed up my copy and paste. Just meant to send links to those songs. Anyway, they’re all on Youtube obviously!
Lets see…Pink Floyd top 5. 1) Astrnomy Domine 2) Echoes from the Meddle album. 3) Several Species of small furry animals gathered together in a cave and grooving with a Pict. 4) Matilda Mother, 5) Wish you were here….Heaven help me if Im called to defend them!
Love that!!! Very novel list. Mine is a bit concentrated in Dark Side of the Moon songs.
It is a bit dark-side-centric, but that is totally understandable. That album is so much genius that it’s superiority stands alone. Yes, the comments have got confused. Maybe we can have a cute intergenerational joint post/interview? I think our musings might well entertain a few people!
Sounds great! I’m very down. Do you have Twitter or Facebook? There are links to my pages for each of them in the menu on my blog. Would love to link up so we can communicate there and maybe plan something without having to stay on this long comment thread. Ha
Due to security concerns (ex husband…yeah….stupid of me..) I don’t do either of those things, you can email me at my email address, just click the contact me button. Im banned from twitter…bad bad me…
P.S. Sorry about your ex and all. :/
Oh and one last thing: If you love Kendrick as a poet, you HAVE to hear Sing About Me I’m Dying of Thirst. It is by far his best and most poetic song. The lyrics are absolutely stunning!
Hey Luke, I’ve a busy morning with people various boring meetings at the shelter Im living in, but will be around after midday. Listened to Sing about me/dying of thirst. Immensely talented, Byronic and moving. Thank you for the recommendation!
Awesome. And yesss—such a masterpiece of a song!
Fabulous! I can’t find your “contact me” information, but if you drop me a note, Im looking forwards to continuing the conversation. Hope your day is going well?
Sounds good! My email is email@example.com—got a lot of undesired spam and requests and job offers, so I removed my contact page. But anyway, it’s alright! Just going to be doing homework all day haha. Being a Harvard student is a blessing at times but a curse at others. Hope yours is going well too!
What is your major? Very very well done on getting there, Luke. It will all be worth it in the end, lovely! Mine has been gritty shelter meetings, in depth conversations with social workers, and heavy leaning on me to get a vaccine I don’t want, which is whilst, understandable, a little disconcerting. Im working on ressurecting my old punk attitude of “I dont give a fuck.” It’s partially working….
Thank you! I’m studying Government and History here at Harvard. And thanks—ha the hope that it’ll all be worth it is what I cling to! Also, props to you doing good stuff for your community and social work and all!
Hah! I am not the social worker…Im the social work recipient. I live in a homeless shelter, after being refused a divorce and left destitute after a marriage in which I got the heck beaten out of me for years…I wish I was on the other end of things!
Oh okay. I’m sorry that you’re living in the shelter! Hope you find a great place to live!
English Literature B.A hons here…I wish I had done law. I was a fool worrying about paying for the extra year.
Love it! My first concentration was Astrophysics but I was then doing English for a couple of years. Ended up switching to Gov / History but I really enjoyed my English classes! P.S. I assume you’ve replied to my email by now and am sorry I haven’t gotten back to you there yet. I am banning myself from texting or checking my email as I try to get work done throughout today (need to do the same with WordPress, but it’s just so tempting). 👍
Astrophysics at Harvard! Cripes, Luke! You must be even more intelligent than the average Radiohead fan! How is the work going? I dig the dedication to the cause of intellectual pursuits. I winged my way through whilst trying to hide my Rimbaldian devotion to the green fairy and other distractions. Yes, I replied, but am finally back at the computer, after a day of interruptions.
Haha I appreciate it! Lots of smart Radiohead fans out there though, of course ha! To be fair, everybody loves the green fairy up here in Boston. And sorry for my delay as well. Just been working nonstop for the last 2 days. :/
Yikes! What are you working on? Yes, absolutely, Radiohead fans are well known for being a discerning and intelligent bunch. I have to say, I had a little peek at the Harvard online magazine site…and my gosh…the pressure! You write beautifully, Luke, I hope the right doors open and things work out well for you.
Off to bed but would love to talk soon, of course!
Any time, Luke! Feel free to write to me at my email address. So cool to talk with you! Night night!
Sounds great! Talk to you soon. Goodnight!
Oh dang now I see. Were you saying all-time top favorites by anybody? Sorry, getting late so my brain is mush. My favorites are Pyramids – Frank Ocean, Nights – Frank Ocean, Myth – Beach House, Shine on You Crazy Diamond Pts. 1-5 – Pink Floyd, and All I Need – Radiohead. Also love The Big Ship – Brian Eno, Summertime – Vince Staples, and Sing About Me I’m Dying of Thirst – Kendrick Lamar. How about you?
Oh…people never ask me this! Lets see. Im afraid this will be heavy on the Patti and Lou. 1)Ain’t it Strange from Radio Ethiopia. 2)Jigsaw Falling into Place, Radiohead. 3)Patti. Ask the Angels. 4) Sweet Jane, Velvets. 5)Black Angel’s Death Song, Velvets.
Very cool and unexpected list! Nice variation, and adore the fact you have Kendrick in there! He is a poet.
Thank you!!! Love your list as well!
I sent links for the songs Us and Them, Time, Breathe, Hey You, and Shine on You Crazy Diamond Pts. 1-5. Also love The Great Gig in the Sky, Any Colour You Like, Have a Cigar, Welcome to the Machine, Money, Young Lust, and Comfortably Numb.
how strange, they are only going through to your top page…Ill find the posts. Cool that you took the time to go through Young Lust!
We’ve exchanged so many comments on so many threads on this post that I got super confused a few times haha!
Just amazes me how dynamic the band is and how they can adopt any type of sound and do it so absolutely well. Jonny Greenwood is such a genius. He can make music of almost any genre haha.
Johnny is quite alright, but he is no Thom.
True. Jonny is an instrumental prodigy but Thom is just overall a musical prodigy in every way!
Faster, Johnny, faster! Poor Johnny….he will never quite do what is going on in Thom’s head.
Fair enough. Two geniuses!
I can agree there. I play guitar, and always admired Johnny’s patience with Thom. I know I would just tell him to go play faster by himself, but poor Johnny just takes it…
For sure! I just love how Jonny is a great composer and polymath who is skilled at playing many, many instruments and capable of building computers and all sorts of stuff. He’s a freak!
Both a freak, a gentleman, and has the patience of a saint!
Ha so true!
Sir Johnny of the Good Hair.
Fun fact: He spells it “Jonny” for whatever reason. Thought you might enjoy that!
Ah, Im sure he just thinks he does…(puts on old lady costume and regains swagger)…
Speaking of Pablo Honey songs other than Creep, I’m also really enjoying the songs Blow Out, You, and Anyone Can Play Guitar!
Dig that performance, huh! They were playing for their lives! They knew they had one chance to impress us…and they did! It is always going to be a favorite music moment of mine, Thom yelling “I wanna be like Jim Morrison! Fat! Ugly! DEAD!”…and we threw our arms round him and loved him!
Haha Thom is the best!
Do you have your spam filter on, Luke? It’s in your dashboard…Back to Radiohead…Im OLD, I mean not like boomer old, but old nevertheless, and was around when Radiohead just started. In Rainbows might be the 2021 cool hipster’s choice, but it can never be my favorite. OK Computer, when I bought it they day it was released, I put it on and hated it, made me feel worse than Leonard Cohen on the day the dog died. Of course, it is genius…but nothing can beat the sheer nostalgic value of Pablo Honey, and Ill die on that hill…..
Need to put that filter on now. And thanks for sharing! I totally respect that. In Rainbows may be my personal favorite, but I 100% believe that OK Computer is still objectively their best album (and it’s not even close, agreed?). Just have such a personal connection with it. But yeah I totally get you on hipsters loving this stuff, but from my experience that type of excessive praise and press goes to Kid A more than In Rainbows.
OK Computer is head and shoulders above anything else they have done…and quite a few things any band have done, at least from their hey day 90s era. We all have such a personal emotional knee kick response to music. As far as I can see from the subreddit pits In Rainbows just pips Kid A at the post for hip points. Im glad you got that spam filter on, otherwise all kinds of gentlemen will be wanting to know if you can help them cash their $4 million bucks, or else trying to boost your confidence etc etc…Modern life is disturbing…
Indeed. Radiohead is my favorite band of all time—I’ve heard all of their albums countless times (other than Pablo Honey ha) and have to agree! And ha so true as for the spam! So happy I won’t get as much of that anymore.
And love that you have that bold opinion! I always felt that Pablo Honey is one of their weakest albums, but I must admit that I don’t really have the right to have an opinion on it because I haven’t heard the entire album.
Lol! Didn’t make it to the end, huh! I guess you had to be there at the time….
Ha I’ll check it out this week and let you know what I think!
Just to give you fair warning. You won’t like it. 🌺
Ha fair enough. Obviously we’ve all heard Creep, but do you have any other specific songs you’d recommend? I’ll try to just hear it all.
Big fan of Nirvana though, so I appreciate the grunge aspects of the album and all. I just love Radiohead’s alternative, electronic, and ambient aspects even more!
Nirvana is a more visceral experience, and I’m coming at this from the other end of things – I listened to things as they were released and music is so intrinsically intertwined with experience that it is hard to intellectually separate the two for me – this is the music of my misspent youth, my soundtrack. The day Kurt died, I fell out of some scuzzy bar feeling like nothing would ever be the same again.
So true as for Nirvana! Just crazy how visionary and ahead of their time they were (just like Radiohead), right? And aww dang can’t imagine how hard it was when Kurt died.
Despite being more lesbian than I cared to admit at the time, I was always convinced that if Kurt just dated me instead everything would be quite alright! Me and my friends had been drinking all night in some dive bar, the taxi driver told us “that Kurt shot hisself in the face,” and laughed. I sat there and cried. Nirvana were The Band. I don’t quite want to boast, but I had Bleach when Bleach was first released, and ALL my friends kept telling me how shit it was. I’m still preening to this day.
Haha love it. Great story!
Yeah, I honestly thought that no one knew, while I was sitting there with my girlfriend on my lap….Yeah..they all knew…My coming out had absolutely no shock value at all. I was almost disappointed.
I feel ya lol
I just wrote a short piece on my total confusion at the scene after a couple decades away…and perhaps a little gratuitous stones, if you feel like reading…I called it “out of time-capsule”. Might make you smile, its a peace offering after nudging you into Pablo Honey.
Sorry doing homework but I’ll get back to ya on all of this later tonight!
Checking it out now!
Also, speaking of, what are your favorite Radiohead songs of all time? I always ask fans this since the range of answers is so vast (since they have so much amazing stuff of all types of genres).
1)Jigsaw Falling Into Place
3)Everything in it’s right place
4)2 plus 2 equals 5
Yes yes…I know…Pablo Honey..if you want to know which makes me cry for the 90s it would be an entirely difference and highly uncool list.
Wow—very interesting and novel list. Love it! I’d go with All I Need, Reckoner, Fake Plastic Trees, Reckoner, Spectre, Talk Show Host, Decks Dark, Exit Music for a Film, Paranoid Android, How to Disappear Completely, Lotus Flower, Climbing up the Walls, and Pyramid Song. Ha I’m sure your lists would never be uncool and that you’re just being modest!
My dirty mars bar of a list would be 1)Everybody can play guitar
5)Fake Plastic Trees.
I might need to haul out my battered 6 hole DM’s (that is Dr Maartens not direct messages), dress like Lou Reed at a ’70s New York leather queen club, and drink hard cider in homage to my 90’s self in order to justify it though…Totally respectable list from you, as expected! Interested in what you like about All I Need above Paranoid Android?
I dig that list! And I love all of those songs—not in any particular order. Paranoid Android is def one of their best songs ever and I wouldn’t put it above All I Need. Just have a very strong connection to the latter song due to my first love + relationship and stuff.
I dig that, Luke! Yes, that is exactly what I mean, subjectivity vs objectively knowing something is better.
If anybody can tell me how to get rid of such spam comments, I’d be forever grateful.
Muchas gracias. ?Como puedo iniciar sesion?