In Rainbows is most well known for its release strategy; the band self-released it as pay-what-you-want download, although it subsequently also had a physical release. It’s one of the tightest, most accessible Radiohead albums; it’s succinct at 10 songs and 43 minutes, while the sonic textures are gentle and subdued. The band are still dabbling with electronic and experimental sounds, but they’re subtly integrated into the album’s textures, leaving a uniform and consistent sound.
The closer ‘Videotape’ is little more than a Yorke vocal and piano, while ’15 Step’ and ‘Reckoner’ are driven by Phil Selway’s unconventional rhythms, but they all dovetail easily into the same album. Highlights include the emotional Yorke vocal on ‘Weird Fishes/Arpeggi’ and the spooky, string-driven ‘All I Need’.
In spite of the fact that the band were giving it away for free to people who chose to pay nothing, In Rainbows is yet another triumph for Radiohead, and is another gem in one of the most dependable catalogues in popular music.