Radiohead’s latest, In Rainbows, is certainly my favorite since Ok Computer.  It’s got, you know, songs.  Like with melodies, stuff like that, something which their last several albums have been, well, lacking.  After three albums worth of electro-pop avante garde nonsense I’d rather given up on Yorke and Co. producing another record of music.  But, lo and behold, they did.  This record is chock full o’ music.  And it’s pretty damn good.

Which leads me to my complaint, which is not so much with the music as it is with the criticism this record has received.  Many critics (Josh Gibbs not least among them) have noted that this is Radiohead’s most ‘approachable’ album in a while.  That the music will be ‘less demanding’ of the listener than some of their recent fare.

I respectfully disagree.  This album has challenged me as a listener more than Kid A, Amnesiac, and Hail to the Thief all rolled into one.  The reason for this is precisely because it’s full of songs.  Those last three records  seemed like Yorke and Co. saying something like:

“Screw you, you can’t understand what we’re trying to say.  It’s so complicated we can’t even say it with traditional song structures.  We’re so complicated and interesting it boggles the mind.  Go ahead, write a ten page review of the record expounding all the themes you think you see, but you didn’t really understand that blip of noise at 2:52 and 20 seconds into National Anthem.  Yeah, I know you think you got it, but you really didn’t.”

All in all, it felt like Piss Christ, it felt like that exhibit where they piled up a bunch of trash in the middle of an art gallery adn called it an exhibit.  It felt like a joke being played on me by the music industry.  And I’m not some scrub unused to complicated music.  I’ve been through my share and found meaning in music that was quite obscure.

But I’m very pleased with In Rainbows.  They’ve given me a bunch of music to listen to and analyze, which is very different for Radiohead these days.  It’s a brave step for them to make songs again and I’m glad they took it.  Someone, I think in Spin, said that they had to go through the experimental days of the last three records to get back to making music again.  I hope that’s true, cause this is a really good record and I hope they’ve got more actual music in them.

I’m optimistic.

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