In case you didn't know already, I'm a huge fan of the boys. There aren't too many artists/groups that I'd blindly trust with a new project — several times bitten, forever shy — but Radiohead is a band to whom I will always give the benefit of the doubt.
Dark and smoky. But gooooood dark and smoky.
I've listened to this album three times since I downloaded it (legally, of course) on Friday, a day before it was supposed to have been released. It hasn't taken me long to really appreciate what's going on here.
Overall, it's a departure from their most recent pair of albums; those tended to veer back into guitar-based territory, which they do well too (obviously). As Matt Blair suggested, things venture into the Kid A-ish realm of things, and I'll agree with that sentiment. However, whereas Kid A was the first time they plunged into, as ex-blogger ECB refers to it, "bleepy bloopy" music — resulting in a wholesale yet sometimes overly technical commitment to electronica — this time, they're going into it with the full knowledge of what sorts of things are possible, what sorts of things aren't, and how far they should wade into that end of the pool.
Long story short: It works.
Long story longer: When they want to dial things back and make them more atmospheric, they do. When they want to reel-in that obscure part of your brain wholly dedicated to complex beats, they do. And, perhaps most surprisingly for a record like this, whenever they want to get a solid groove going, they do.
It's not a long album, but I'm alright with that. What this album is, though, is thorougly impressive. I'm not sure exactly where this'll end up in my ranked list of the Radiohead canon, but you'd better believe it's going to be near the top, and that is damn high praise from this inconsequential (but nerdy) reviewer.
Get it here. (The mp3 version is fine.) Seriously, folks, pay for this music. I will openly admit I download music illegally from time to time, just like you do. But don't steal this. It's nine bucks, and you have nine bucks.