In 2007, In Rainbows from Radiohead is a delicate but captivating record to act as a companion to OK Computer but improve on the isolative touches that OK Computer had, replacing them instead with overwhelmingly warm instrumentals. The paranoia, the fear of missing out, the search for betterment, is all seemingly there on In Rainbows, but the delivery is slightly altered to be a record not unhappy to die to but is a beautiful burial.
Opening with “15 Step,” the instrumentation here comes right after Hail To The Thief where electronic production was slowly worked into the discography, but Radiohead still paints human touches all over this record. The authentic percussion mixes so incredibly well on “15 Step” with the synthetic, forming a bond between both man and machine.
Focusing for a moment on Thom Yorke’s delivery with the lyrical output, especially on a track as vital or as primal as “All I Need.” In Rainbows is built for being both the outsider and the one in the action. The flow of emotion from the uplifting work of the previous track, “Weird Fishes/ Apreggi” replaces the lead strings from Colin Greenwood on bass with Jonny Greenwood as well as Ed O’Brien on guitars that are iconic, and moves into this keyboard progression that feels as dirt being piled on a coffin.
The atmosphere sculpted and formed here drives a wedge between being a king for a day, and being the trash someone would step over in the same breath. “All I Need” is grimly alluring, but builds to become the climax of the record. Yorke describes, “I’m a moth who just wants to share your light. I’m just an insect, trying to get out of the night. I only stick with you, because there are no others.”
As the percussion from Philip Selway continues to construct a healthy home around the audience, “All I Need” painfully bleeds into an overwhelming slow burn with crashes of cymbals and shouts that transitions effortlessly into “Faust Arp” and then “House Of Cards.”
Where the configuration of In Rainbows is able to become approachable is on its sonic arrangement between two conflicting moods of being emotionally broken, and emotionally unstoppable. The record transitions so often that it gives the perfect round of mood swings and being replicated to the brain of a human.
Where expression and creativity push out the character that Radiohead can paint as the subject for each record. In Rainbows is instead this reflective mirror that instinctively holds OK Computer’s hand in the entire ride.