Radiohead - In Rainbows (2007), 7/10

I was deeply infatuated with Radiohead from high school through college, and while some of the youthful allure has dissipated over the years, my appreciation for their contributions to music remains as deep as ever. This album, while I was already very familiar with its songs, has taken on a new identity in recent years. Some of this is just a natural progression, as this record has so much to offer in between the lines of what you may initially hear, but it also has a unique place in Radiohead's story. I see this as a culmination of everything Radiohead does well, elevated by perfectly executed experimentation. "15 Step" is a perfect opener to get the juices flowing, launching right into the rocking "Bodysnatchers". We then get a nice change of pace with the slow and swimming "Nude", a beautiful track where we get the classic trope of sustained notes coming from Thom while the rest of the band swells dramatically. Next is perhaps the strongest single song in "Weird Fishes / Arpeggi"; each band member contributes something truly epic and it just culminates together perfectly in each rise and fall. "Jigsaw Falling Into Place" is another personal favorite, offering an epic acoustic part that transforms into an even more epic climax. Obviously "Videotape" is an epic closer, clearly right out of Thom's mind and reminds one of his stronger solo work. While its quality as a singular album is overrated, just as much of their other work, its importance is undeniable. It represents a return to greatness after the disappointing and frustrating Hail to the Thief, re-infusing the hard rocking, ambient accented experimental sensibilities that made their earlier work worthwhile. Musically it isn’t completely groundbreaking, but still remains a set of catchy, emotionally moving songs. Other than perhaps “Faust Arp” and its momentum break at the beginning of the second half of the record, there isn’t a song that can’t stand alone as a great single. The high-energy sensibilities seem to be a strong point for Radiohead at this time, especially for Jonny Greenwood and Selway’s percussion style, but the ballads serve their function within the flow of the track list. One of their better records and important for rock music and the industry.