CD Reviews: “Scary Kids Scaring Kids” and “In Rainbows”



WHAT DAVE HERRERA THINKS: Somewhere after releasing 2003’s “Hail to the Thief,” Radiohead remembered they used to be a rock band. The result, “In Rainbows,” is a stripped-down affair compared to their last few offerings, but another gem all the same.

The band cut back on the electronics on “Hail,” and now they’re gone almost entirely. Instead, standard guitars-drums-vocal arrangements dominate.

It’s not even very loud – “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” is as intense as things get, with guitars spiraling upwards until the band hits full bloom.

But on “House of Cards” or “Nude,” the riffs are simple, just a few delicate strums and the occasional sound effect or string off to the side.

Drummer Phil Selway is the most constant presence. His skittish beat on “15 Steps” is utterly danceable (yes, danceable). On “Jigsaw Falling Into Place” and “Bodysnatchers” he keeps the tempo steady and fairly quick, but never overplays.

Elsewhere, the band chooses atmosphere over power.

“Reckoner” borrows a haunting vocal harmony straight from Queens of the Stone Age (one of several excellent backing vocal tracks on the album), while Selway struts along.

Colin Greenwood offers a brooding bassline on “All I Need,” while Thom Yorke pines, “I am the next step/waiting in the wings … I am all the days/that you choose to ignore.”

For his part, Yorke is his same old moody self. “I love you but enough is enough” he sings on “Faust Arp,” a short, string-driven piece with some of Yorke’s harshest lyrics. “Wakey wakey/rise and shine it’s on again/off again,” he says, double tracking his vocals to sound like Elliot Smith.

“In Rainbows” is vastly different from its predecessors. This time, the joy of listening to it is that there’s actually joy in listening to it. It doesn’t require serious legwork to appreciate. It’s simply well-played music from very talented people.