I figured every blogger and his dog (or should that be mouse?) would be talking ‘In Rainbows‘ this week and thus stepped away from what was probably the most obvious thing for me to talk about on this page in months. Well, it turns out I couldn’t resist.
Just to get the opinion bit out the way first; it’s a great album. It’s not life-changing, and it’s not my favourite album released this year, but it is full of good tunes, musically interesting and stylistically challenging, as one might expect from Radiohead. It’s concise, moody and fantastically precise. It feels like it has been meticulously crafted and that’s no bad thing in my book. ‘Hail To The Thief‘ sounded quite the opposite, and was played less as a result. ‘In Rainbows’ sent me back to ‘Hail‘, as well as ‘Amnesiac‘ and ‘Kid A‘ will go on again soon. I’ve always been fond of ‘Kid A‘ and ‘Amnesiac‘, but never that sure on ‘Hail’. This hasn’t caused any great change in viewpoints, but it has sent me back to some fabulous music. ‘Drunken Punch-Up At A Wedding‘ was blasting out in the Rescue Rooms bar on Thursday night when I went to see Maps – quite possibly my all-time favourite gig – and it reminded me of why we all liked Radiohead in the first place. Ballsy, grumpy and unmistakably them. Anyway, I think it’s a pretty decent record and am looking forward hugely to my ‘discbox’. The low bit-rate was a bit of a shame, but it was a fucking download first and foremost, not the way to listen to music in the long term.
Now, the more interesting aspects of this week. Paul Morley has something of a reputation as a self-aggrandising smuggy whose writing attempts to build a house with nothing but hot air, but puts intellectual curtains in the window to give the air of something too clever for us mere mortals. Possibly the most convoluted metaphor ever, that. Enjoy. Anyway, this week he truly surpassed himself, and I say this as someone who has quite a lot of time for the chap. His track-by-track review for the Observer Music Monthly blog was spectacularly twattish. Whether it was meant to be a huge wind-up or taken seriously it was still the most bizarre thing I’ve read in ages. I’m well aware that picking apart a piece of writing I consider pointless is probably even more pointless, so I’ll attempt to keep my criticisms specific and brief. Obviously this may still cause the internet to melt, but we shall see. (Incidentally, I’ve been reliably informed that the real way to melt the internet is to Google ‘google’.)
The faux-ironic, I’m saying I’m not doing it but I really am, teee-heee-heee, approach grates from the off. I actually found myself needing power-naps in the middle of the review just to make sure that I would get to the end, so heavy is the over-bearing tone of ‘this is about Morley not Radiohead’. I’m well aware that this is how he has always been, and re-reading old piece from the weekly music press his style is engaging, bold and provocative. His latter-day writings are often astute, amusing and erudite. But this was a pastiche. Hard to criticise him for it, as I’m sure he pocketed more than a few quid for the review, but there remains a worrying sense that he might have actually thought it added something on the subject of ‘In Rainbows‘. Still, he’s not as mental as some of the people over on the atease message boards, who appear to think that the members of Radiohead are figments of their imaginations who should do as they’re told.
Favourite bits of ‘In Rainbows’-ism, is this page dedicated to creating artwork for the album. Some genuinely wonderful stuff here.