A Look Back: Radiohead’s In Rainbows

A re you in a state of shock as I am in the realization that it has been ten years since Radiohead dropped “In Rainbows”? The band was a decade younger and was at the point of their career where there was nothing to prove in the eyes of their fans who already deemed the band the equivalent of musical gods. In the eyes of their critics, they were one of the most creative bands of their generation. Radiohead, never resting on their past accomplishments, released “In Rainbows” in 2007 an album that captivated their audience. To truly get a grasp on the album, you have to begin with another great album in Radiohead’s discography “Ok, Computer”.

 “I would still give my left ball to write anything as good as OK Computer.” -Chris Martin (Coldplay)

The thing about creating an album so acclaimed as “Ok, Computer” is that everything you create afterward will be held to the standard of that album. So when the band released their follow-up “Kid A”, they floored the musical world yet again creating another amazing album. The album was the band’s second consecutive album to garner a perfect ten rating from Pitchfork one of the nation’s top music publications.

The band’s next two albums “Amnesiac” and “Hail to the Thief”, however good, they didn’t quite live up to the standard of the band’s previous two albums. The pressure on the band was at an all-time high. Anything less than perfection released by the band was approached with bitter criticism.

 “The new songs have attitude, but they sound like outtakes from 2000’s classic Kid A and 2001’s lesser Amnesiac.” – Austin Chronicle

The pressure put a toll on the band and led to the decision of the group taking time off in 2003.

 “It was definitely time to take a break. There was still a desire amongst us to make music, but also a realization that other aspects of our lives were being neglected.” – Drummer Philip Selway

In late 2005, the band decided to get back together in the hopes of recording again, but things weren’t clicking. It was the band’s first break since they were teens and getting back into the groove of things wasn’t as easy as they had taught. So the band went on another hiatus.

“When we got back into the studio, it was just dead.”- Thom Yorke

The following year, the band scrap all the material they had recorded up to that point opting to start from scratch now working on the album in trailers in the small city of Georgian. By the spring of the following year, the band completed the album they named “In Rainbows”.

To release the album, Radiohead decided that the typical album release didn’t cut it for them. Rumors had it that the band’s frustration with the traditional way of releasing an album was the result of previous album leaks the band endured. Shaking up the musical world, Radiohead released “In Rainbows” in 2007 by way of their website DeadAirSpace.com. Even more surprising, they offered the album on a pay what you want format.

“Some people hailed it as a revolution for the music industry, and a new model for other bands to follow.” – NME Blog

As you could imagine, the method in which the band released the album overshadowed the music of the album for a while. The public, however, moved on from the spectacle of the album’s release to the music of “In Rainbows” which was nothing like what they created in the past. Everything felt new, like the time away obviously changed the band members for the better.

“The most heartening thing about In Rainbows, besides the fact that it may represent the strongest collection of songs Radiohead have assembled for a decade, is that it ventures into new emotional territories” -Simon Vozick-Levinson (Rolling Stone)

The album was filled with tracks that awed their fans and when the dust settled, the album was yet another great album among the already number of masterpieces in the band’s discography. The latest impact, however, is often the most over looked. The album cemented the band’s legacy as one of the greatest groups of their generation.