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Boomkat Product Review:
One of the most talked about album releases in recent years, Radiohead's In Rainbows finally sees a conventional release on a conventional format. However extraordinary the circumstances of the album's initial download-only release were, it's worth mentioning that In Rainbows greatly benefits from being heard in an uncompressed format, and offers a greatly improved listening experience over the 160kbps MP3 edition - finally, those wide-panned Nigel Goddrich mixes can be heard in all their depth and magnificence. In many ways Goddrich is the great, unsung genius in the Radiohead camp. Although not a member of the band in his own right, the producer has undoubtedly contributed significantly to their studio persona from OK Computer onwards. It's an emphasis on behind the scenes experimentation that's kept Radiohead sounding so vital over the years. Few mainstream acts manage to sculpt sound in such a persistently adventurous fashion, and a track like '15 Step' succeeds by remaining coherent in the midst of all the teeth-rattling electronics and unconventional beat arrangements. Yet straight after comes a fairly straight-ahead rock number: 'Bodysnatchers', despite sounding expansive in scale and stadium-ready in its delivery, manages to sidestep all the pomp and histrionics that tend to bog down bands of this size and instead thrashes around with the utmost eloquence, with Jonny Greenwood wringing violent surges of telecaster luminosity out of the piece. Next comes the longstanding fan favourite formerly known as 'Big Ideas (Don't Get Any)' and 'Failure To Receive Repayment Will Put Your House At Risk'. Sadly, the band eventually opted for the comparatively humdrum title 'Nude', but nonetheless, the song finally gets an official slot on a Radiohead record, sounding chillingly beautiful, cloaked in strings, scraped pickstrokes and Yorke's effortlessly mellifluous falsetto. It would be worth playing 'All I Need' next to Boards Of Canada's 'Roygbiv' for comparison: there's a definite genealogical link between the two. It'd be selling the song short to leave the analysis there however, aside from Yorke's oddly stoic delivery the song is defined by some adventurous orchestral flare-ups and a coda propelled by great eruptions of density. It's this stuff that was inevitably glossed over in the over-compressed 160kbps download: the amount of instrumental detail would be devoured by Phil Selway's oceanic cymbal flourishes. 'House Of Cards' may well feature the all-time weirdest Thom Yorke lyric: "I don't want to be your friend, I just want to be your lover." Isn't that a Texas song? But no, as the piece unfolds it all gets shrouded in the suburban gloom of key parties and tentative musings on infidelity. While In Rainbows is bound to pop up in more than a few end-of-year charts, the truth is it's very easy to get complacent about the standard of Radiohead records. We expect brilliance and the truth is, we always get it. In Rainbows is especially wonderful though, featuring what's probably the band's best work since Kid A.