5 Peerless (as usual)redferrari1999 | 19/11/2007 | See all redferrari1999's reviews (1)Hail to the Thief, Radiohead's last offering was, if anything, a slightly bloated record. Although it satiated the pro-guitar lobby, it felt too long and lacked the eccentricity and creativity of Kid A and Amnesiac. The comparatively short In Rainbows, while certainly not an exercise in regression, recalls the eerie, otherworldly atmosphere that so characterised those two triumphs of experimentation and abandonment. However, never has Radiohead's experimentation been so accessible, so tender and so achingly beautiful.The album opens as expected. 15 Step could have been a track on Thom Yorke's recent Eraser project. It utilises Yorke's obvious appetite for creepy, disjointed, discombobulated electronica hinged by Johnny Greenwood's fretwork and Yorke's melodious sarcasm and wit. Yet amid the computerised confusion, In Rainbows radiates with longing, regret and a deep sadness. These are emotions not approached with much regularity by Radiohead.Unlike The Bends or OK Computer, In Rainbows exposes, until now well-hidden, personal fears and secret emotions. Radiohead's brilliance is that they are able to translate these feelings through subtle yet shimmering and resonant melodies. This is Radiohead at their absolute finest. Nude (Big Ideas) is a perfect illustration of Radiohead as they are today. The song is about infidelity and is racked with guilt: "So don't get any big ideas / They're not gonna happen / You'll go to hell for what your dirty mind is thinking". Similarly, House of Cards touches on the same subject matter. Infidelity? This is Radiohead. Radiohead make songs (if one will allow me to criminally paraphrase) about escaping death, inadequacy, paranoia and corrupt governments. Not this time. Radiohead have approached their vulnerabilities and by looking within inner frailties, they have managed to create frighteningly personal musical expositions.Reckoner, perhaps the highlight amid an album of highlights, starts with cycles of simple guitar riffs over a soft tambourine rhythm. Soon the guitar pattern swells into a mellifluous melody that circles, butterfly-like, into a hypnotising and then rousing string-laden ascension.Contrast this with the opening eeriness of All I Need. Yorke mumbles: "I'm an animal trapped in your hot car / I'm all the days that you choose to ignore" while a lazy marching baseline plods drunkenly along. However, this saturnine mood soon transforms and escalates into a thickly layered and sweeping crescendo which overlays jolting piano chords with crashing cymbals and the breathtaking, unnerving screeches of Yorke at his majestic pinnacle. This is a song truly intimidating in its beauty, and while many still feel Radiohead to be too challenging and too abstract it is always worth scratching away at that indurate surface.Weird Fishes/Arpeggi exhibits a sincerity and longing that we have seldom witnessed before: "In the deepest ocean / The bottom of the sea / Your eyes / They turn me." Never before has Thom Yorke sung of such longing and blind love and affection. Johnny Greenwood's unusual use of special effects allows his riffs and melodies to shine as always.Videotape, the album's climax, is so tender in its sentiment as to be almost unapproachable. The tape in question is a posthumous memento for children left behind. Yorke reflects this achingly sad sentiment with some of his innermost outpourings: "This is my way of saying goodbye / Because I can't do it face to face." The song fades out as chiming piano chords soften the overhanging electronic death march.In Rainbows is flush with subtle melody, truncated crescendos and abrupt endings. It is the better for it but make no mistake, this is still Radiohead alright.