Initially issued in October 2007 with little prior notice, Radiohead's seventh full-length studio outing, IN RAINBOWS, took not only fans but the entire music industry by surprise. Released for a limited time only as an online download, the album was offered by the revered British rock group in a groundbreaking "pay what you want" format, allowing the listener to decide its digital value before an appearance in conventional CD form a few months later.
Innovative business practices aside, IN RAINBOWS also garnered attention as Radiohead's most immediately engaging offering since its BENDS/OK COMPUTER days, returning to slightly more accessible pop/rock song structures, while never abandoning the arty experimentalism of subsequent albums. From the shuffling beats of "15 Step" to the amped-up energy of "Bodysnatchers" to the glorious gloom of "Videotape," RAINBOWS presents the full spectrum of Radiohead's artistry, while deftly avoiding vocal melodramatics or excessive technical noodling. When the record hits its peak with the restlessly beautiful "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi" and the emotive, keyboard-driven "All I Need," it's a thrilling reminder of why Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, and the lads are one of the best bands on the planet, and it solidifies IN RAINBOWS as an indisputably great Radiohead album.
Rolling Stone (p.82) - 4.5 stars out of 5 -- "All of it rocks; none of it sounds like any other band on Earth; it delivers an emotional punch....[Yorke's] voice has an R&B lilt that suits the songs' romantic directness."
Rolling Stone (p.108) - Included in Rolling Stone's "50 Top Albums of the Year 2007" -- "Radiohead haven't sounded this aggressive and infuriates -- so rock & roll -- since OK COMPUTER..."
Spin (p.111) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[With] a handful of gorgeous quiet-storm ballads that seem to have been imported from a time even less troubled than the late '90s."
Entertainment Weekly (p.66) - "Using the full musical and emotional spectra to conjure breathtaking beauty, the collection is well named. It may have arrived via computer, but the vision is timeless." -- Grade: A
Uncut (p.86) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he tender, if not sunny, mood is maintained across a beautiful suite of songs..."
Uncut (p.82) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he shuffling fever-funk of 'Down Is The New Up' reaches a state of grace that very few bands ever get to achieve."
The Wire (p.63) - "[T]racks like opener '15 Step' are injected with almost Rephlex-like accelerating rhythms....The album is sonically diverse..."
The Wire (p.35) - Included in The Wire's "50 Records of the Year 2007".
Down Beat (p.77) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Subtle electronics and tastefully deployed string arrangements are woven into the fabric of the tunes..."
Q (Magazine) (p.107) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "IN RAINBOWS still leaves Radiohead in the most enviable position: progressively perfecting their art while able to command autonomy beyond the record industry."
Q (Magazine) (p.88) - Ranked #04 in Q's "The 50 Best Albums Of 2007" -- "Beneath its approachable surface swam myriad subtleties, multiplying with every play."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.96) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "IN RAINBOWS is a necessary masterstroke....Rejoice in a glorious moment for Radiohead, and for the art and business of rock in general."
Blender (Magazine) (pp.141-142) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "IN RAINBOWS formulates a lush, sensualized ideal out of vague, layered discomfort....Far more pensive and reflective than its predecessor..."
Clash (magazine) (p.77) - "IN RAINBOWS shines as a magical, mysterious and multi-faceted album to cherish forever."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.87) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[It] is a smashing record to actually listen to....Piano lines follow unpredictable patterns and cymbals get clipped at every other bar..."