Rainbow Sighting




Radiohead: In Rainbows (online edition)

Expectation can make you crazy. And with the release of their latest effort, via a unique pay-as-you-wish internet scheme, Radiohead announced in more ways than one that they know the stakes.

In Rainbows popped into my inbox at 2:22 AM New York time (I had opted for the fixed price deluxe set, which will be delivered in December, including vinyl albums!, but still got my download access) and as soon as I unzipped it I was pulled in by a magnet of sound.

Crackling -- the kind of five-person human energy that wasn't there on Yorke's solo album of last year. Beatles? Uh-huh. Not only, when these guys were on a label (they are still unsigned, digirati bomb-throwers at this point), it was Capitol. That other band knew a thing or two about expectations, and ambition.

And Radiohead has met the enemy head on -- and while In Rainbows isn't a radical game-changer like Kid A, it is more than worthy. The playing, the sound, the beat, it sizzles like these guys know they're the best band in the world.

The songs range from jerky rockers to melodic, pieces with George Martin-esque strings. They still are firmly rooted in psychedelia, Floyd, Beatles; but they are not imitators. Yorke's plaintive voice and their solid chunks of lyrics deliver. The guitar work, again, is superb throughout. These are songs.

The work flows out of what they've done, and, as the best and only living rock übergroup in the world, that is something worth noticing. And celebrating.