BBC Home

Explore the BBC

31st July 2015
Accessibility help
Text only

BBC Homepage

Contact Us

Like this page?
Send it to a friend!

reviews /  editor album review
editor content by: editor
radiohead 'in rainbows' radiohead
in rainbows
listen to 
real player to access audio and video on collective you need real player.
Pot of gold.

Radiohead bloody Radiohead, they make jabbering idiots of us all. Has anyone stopped to think that, this time around, it’s all a bit of a swizz? That the brouhaha surrounding In Rainbows’ internet release conveniently eclipses the music itself, a collection of odds ‘n’ sods up to a decade old? That they’re sticking it to their fans, not the man, by charging forty quid for a version with decent audio quality? That these whey-faced misery mongers might just be The Arcade Fire of a past-it generation?

Or not. Because In Rainbows really does present Radiohead at their most full-blooded and confident. Kid A-style weirdness adds colour to what are, essentially, ten of their most irresistible melodies, fully realised, in a row. Pitched at the heart rather than the head, romantic tenderness replaces clumsy political swipes. They sound like they had such a blast in the studio that you’d half expect a cheering children’s choir to come in. There is one. Final judgement demands time and perspective, but it’s already clear that In Rainbows is miles better than it has any right to be.

David Jones 11 October 07 rating of 4 and 1/2

Radiohead - In Rainbows, available now from
Read members' comments related to this album.
In rainbows post 10
comment by markglover100    Nov 12, 2007
Oh what more can they do? Short of playing mule fur through Thom Yorke's eyebrow can they push any more's easy to say what can they do now? What new glitchy things can they do? What do we sodding want from them?

Leave them be....'Rainbows' is the sound of a band utterly utterly content with their place, and whilst 'content' hardly screams of rock and roll progression it does suit Radiohead....just enjoy it cos when you really look at it 'Rainbows' is exactly what we all really want.
complain about this page
In rainbows post 9
comment by David Thair    Oct 19, 2007
"I am a casual radiohead fan and I haven't heard these songs before.
I absolutely adore it and can't stop listening to it."

Yep, same here.
complain about this page
In rainbows post 8
comment by Mechsta    Oct 19, 2007
I can see most people who have posted here are die-hard radiohead fans and I sympathise if you cannot appreciate this album because you have heard the tracks before or it's not what you expected. I am a casual radiohead fan and I haven't heard these songs before.
I absolutely adore it and can't stop listening to it. It has a beauty beyond the others, though I realise at the same time it's different. This is more intimate for me. I'm not saying that any of their other albums aren't great - they are. But compare this beautiful little album with some of the dross that's churned out today, and suddenly it seems that radiohead are in a league of their own.
complain about this page
Radiohead...reply post 7
comment by mrscry    Oct 19, 2007
I don't think any of these songs were taken in any interesting direction from their live versions whatsoever, and they sound much less inspiring in the studio. And I was pretty much stating the simple reality that, when you become extremely familiar with a bunch of songs (as opposed to just hearing them once at a concert), their appearance on a new album really doesn't make the album "new" in the least. None of that Kid A stuff was played before the album came out, which made their SNL appearance so damn exciting, and Amnesiac was an even bigger surprise trackwise. THOSE were good new album experiences.
complain about this page
Radiohead...reply post 6
comment by David Thair    Oct 17, 2007
So are you saying you'll never listen to another studio album?

You should check out The Bays. They only play live and improvise their sets.

Could it be that what's happened here is you had certain expectations about those songs, which were taken in a different direction for the album, which you weren't anticipating - and that was in fact a surprise?
complain about this page
Radiohead...reply post 5
comment by mrscry    Oct 17, 2007
Here's the deal with "In Rainbows"... I realize it's cool and even important for bands to try out new songs live before recording them... but the harsh reality with Radiohead is that all their live songs will be heard repeatedly on the Web, and this DESTROYS any excitement one can obtain from a new album... to me, new albums are exciting when they are SURPRISING... well, I already knew all these songs, and not ONE of these studio versions is better than the live versions heard on the Web. So, are these good songs? Yes. But I already knew them, and Thom sang with much more passion on the live 2006 tour than he did in the studio making "In Rainbows". Thus, this album won't even make my top 20 of 2007, despite Radiohead being my favorite band.
complain about this page
Radiohead...reply post 4
comment by docutale    Oct 15, 2007
Thats exactly my point about what has become of Radihead, i never had to try with their earlier albums, the Bends hit me so hard so quickly i didnt have time to come up for air, I have listened to in rainbows a few times and i just cant find myself absorbing this album besides the track Nude. Im not against radioheads progression, i understand that they have changed their direction, but i dont want them to become that type of band where i sat around waiting for the melodies to come to me, i want them to swamp me with their old style of violent guitar riffs of johnny greenwood, thom yorkes contempt and let me reiterate not ACCEPTANCE for the fate of the world and their light and dark shades of pop. Unfortunately this album is something of a backward step for me.

when i was obsessed with radiohead they talked about influences of bands such as Magazine, Pink Floyd and Elvis Costello. You can see the lineage change when they announced their love for Can , Neu and other remnants of Krautrock, i enjoyed Radiohead when they shouted, kicked and screamed at us, their songs were masterpieces back then. i find In Rainbows subtle, its still a great album dont get me wrong its just full of tangled lullabies and confusing and recycled melodies. Choruses are not repeated and vocals just run over the top. I love radiohead, but i loved them much more when they were a pop band not a sloppy band.
complain about this page
reveals itself as a classic post 3
comment by sunking61    Oct 15, 2007
if you commit to this record, really listen to it the way people listened to records back in the '60's and '70's for detail and subtlety, listen to it in headphones then in your car at full volume, etc, then you will be rewarded beyond expectations. It's a soulful love record to someone who loves you back. No wait, it's a record about the longing for love. No, wait, it's a soundtrack to someone slipping away from sanity, life.

Around my fifth listen, it opened up like a flower and made more sense than any record in recent memory. And I was moved that in an age of instant gratification, Radiohead worked so hard to give us something this patient and beautiful when it would be so easy to give a few listens, move on, and miss it.

ps - docutale, seriously, give this record more thoughtful listens, you'll only cheat yourself.
complain about this page
give it time, this one takes sometime to open up. post 2
comment by miseducation    Oct 13, 2007
I'm commenting to specifically respond to docutale and his disappointment. I understand where you're coming from by comparing the achievements of Junior Boys, Air and the like, but I don't think you're giving In Rainbows the proper look.

At first, it could seem like a very minor achievement in the framework of what their last three had set up. The album is far too patient and nothing really stands out as too gorgeous at first, except maybe Nude.

Having listened to nothing but the album in the last week - I must say the beauty, subtlety and variety of the piece has opened up to me in a way I did not expect. This is not really the Radiohead of yore, there are flourishes that betray the simplicity of every single track. String and drum solos leading into vocally cathartic moments that are more R&B than Paranoid Android.

What I'm getting at is this. This is not Junior Boys, nor M83, nor Air, nor electronic Radiohead. It's a labored work of detail and rock that's just a different meal.

Listen to it a dozen more times, loud and maybe on a lazy morning. I promise you'll see your disappointment melt. I'm not saying it's better than those albums - it's just different and something I'm very happy they made.
complain about this page
radiohead down the drain post 1
comment by docutale    Oct 13, 2007
ill be the first one to put my hand up and say how utterly disappointed i am by this album. We all know its not up to their best, its like their is some taboo when criticizing radiohead. Ok computer and the bends were absolute masterpieces, i know kid a and amnesiac had some shining moments, just listen to 'knives out', but really we all know the head have all but left their best work behind them. And i'm kind of satisfied with that because if they had made another bends or computer it just wouldn't be fair to other bands or their progression or that matter, its taken 10 years for bands to start even comprehending how good OK computer really is.

I cannot say that rainbows doesn't have its good moments, nude is by far the stand out track, but have we not all had enough of thom yorke's whinging and lack of melody that he expresses when he sings these days. Where is the urgency, the pop and where is the light and dark that they once had. Now its all dark, no pop and dribbling vocals smoldered over jazzy guitars and warp like electronic beats. I'm all down for that but if you want to look for other artists that are making true headway with band/electronic music just listen to jackson and his computer band, M83 etc, Junior Boys...

For all its worth i have the upmost respect for radiohead, they have done an immense amount for popular music, but i'm afraid to say that unless they pull a rabbit out of their hat i feel they have entered that grey hair, nearing 40's rambling music usually reserved for bands that can't remember what it was like being young, or what it was like to have positive moments in their music.
If i had any advice for( not that they care what i have to say) probably the greatest band ever besides The Beatles, it would be stop reading Wire magazine and listening to artists such as Robert Wyatt, Negativland and Bjork,and start inspiring yourself with new artists out there, that can return an inspirational favour back to you! (thats not to say radiohead don't listen to new music i know they teamped up with modeskeletor recently), all i am saying is back in the day you could hear a violent urgency in their music, something scared the shit out of me when i listened to Radiohead, i don't feel that anymore, i feel almost bored!

I'm sure they are happy with their direction and the way they are moving as a band, and i'm not against progression as a band, but i wish they progressed with their best elements still in tact. In all honesty i feel nostalgic about the days when Radiohead would bowl me over with those knockout albums, here is to the future and hoping they can get back to where they once were.
complain about this page

related info
the notwist
note: The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.
see also

collective's dead...
Long live Collective. Read our editor and member features.
radio 1
radio 1 annie nghtingale

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy