First Look: Radiohead – In Rainbows, Disc 2

Photo by Andy Field (Hubmedia)

The much-discussed Radiohead discbox got mailed out this week, which means In Rainbows part deux has leaked all over the Internet for those savvy enough to find it post-OiNK. (Hint: Google Blog Search) In the grand tradition of Radiohead b-sides and EPs, this stuff is as good as the album that birthed it – and sometimes more interesting.

“Bangers & Mash” sounds as savage as it did live, a fitting counterpoint to In Rainbow‘s “Bodysnatchers.” “Down is the New Up,” thankfully, manages to sound a bit less like U2 than the live cut, but it still drips Achtung Baby. “Go Slowly” abandons its former plodding guitar dystopia for a prettier, spookier sound a la “Wolf at the Door.” The simple, piano-and-guitar “Last Flowers” – the closest thing the band’s done to a just-plain folk song in a decade – recalls “Karma Police” or “No Surprises.”

Perhaps most importantly, these songs eschew the heavy reverb that cloaks Thom Yorke’s vocals (and many of the instruments) on In Rainbows. As a production choice, I think it’s a much stronger one – Yorke is one of rock’s finest voices and burying him on tracks such as “House of Cards” arguably hurts the songs. But the band has always played fast and loose on their EPs and singles – pick up the Amnesiac b-sides if you want to see Radiohead at their most wildly experimental – and usually, it results in fantastic material. While In Rainbows is clearly meant as the pair’s artistic statement, there are more than enough impressive tracks to make the “bonus” disc an essential listen.

Radiohead – “Bangers & Mash” (live): mp3

Sample live cuts of the rest of the new songs here: Radiohead – In Rainbows – The Definitive Preview


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