Around fifteen minutes ago your trusty Rolling Stone bloggers received their downloadable versions of Radiohead's seventh studio LP, In Rainbows. While we gather our thoughts (and clean up that keyboard drool), feel free to post your first impressions in the comments. We can't help thinking the band dropped this sucker on us at 1:30 AM on purpose.
The MP3s have been unzipped, our iPods have been loaded, and we're ready to live-blog In Rainbows ... And remember, you want to hear how some of the songs previously sounded live, check out our In Rainbows preview to compare and contrast.
"15 Step" 0:20: We're twenty seconds into "15 Step," and our brains feel like they are about to explode. 1:45 AM is way too early to unfurl a new Radiohead album on us. The beats are heavier, faster than the live version hinted.
"15 Step" 0:44: After a long percussion/falsetto barrage, the guitar finally kicks in. On Hail To the Thief's opener "2+2=5," Radiohead responded to their previous album's "no guitar" criticism by plugging in their amps and getting loud. Here, they overload on the beats.
"15 Step" 2:25: Thom Yorke's voice gets all reverbed, like a dub reggae track. Children's voices shout out in the background, likely courtesy of these kids.
"Bodysnatchers" 0:30: Very similar to the live version; the guitar is more fuzzed-out but structurally, pace-wise, it's closer to its live predecessor than "15 Step."
"Bodysnatchers" 2:00: Thom throws out different lyrics after the "I've no idea what you're talking about." Jonny Greenwood busts out the oceanic guitars for the song's bridge.
2:57 AM: We agree with the comment left below by Marty: Where is the album artwork? Couldn't they have embedded it before sending out the MP3s? Our iPod screens look so ... blank.
"Nude" 0:30: This song, on its umpteenth incarnation, sounds completely new, despite dating back to the mid-1990s. The introduction now includes strings, but they soon dissipate and we're left with just the bass line and Thom singing.
"Nude" 2:42: The strings swell, briefly. "You'll go to hell for what your dirty mind is thinking." The choral voices from OK Computer's "Exit Music (For a Film)" make a brief cameo to add density to Thom's voice, which is in its A-game on this song.
"Weird Fishes/Arpeggi" 0:36: "Arpeggi" starts off more upbeat than the ascending-keyboard live versions. Acoustic guitar takes over for piano keys.
"Weird Fishes/Arpeggi" 4:00: Thom sings while another Thom harmonizes in the background. Studio magic. All facets of the band finally click, going into overdrive before reaching the crescendo. We're still pretty sure "fishes" isn't a word. It's really late, but "fish" is plural for "fish," we think. We'll look it up later.
"All I Need" 0:40: Finally, keyboards!
"All I Need" 1:39: Thom's voice is soaked in reverb. "I'm just an insect trying to get out of the light."
"All I Need" 3:25: So far, five songs into it, the trend on the album is sparse, minimal arrangements that soon swell up into orchestral behemoths. This song is no exception, and possibly the standout track of the first half (though we've always been keen to "Nude").
"Faust Arp" 0:25: The one truly unreleased song on disc one of In Rainbows is a swift, acoustic ballad with Gainsbourg-esque strings. It sounds like a more menacing version of HTTT B-side "Gagging Order."
"Faust Arp" 1:44: Suddenly, it all makes sense. Thom's voice at this moment was prefaced in the Dead Air Space video posted back in June.
"Reckoner" 1:06: This is "Reckoner???" It's completely unrecognizable. Gone is our favorite Thom opening line "Feeling pulled apart by horses." Gone are the sinister guitars, the fierce chorus.
"Reckoner" 2:10: Many fans who were glad that "Reckoner" had been resurrected from the Kid A days are now likely disappointed with its new incarnation. This was Radiohead's most pulsing rocker. This song is "Reckoner" in name only.
"Reckoner" 3:00: There are two kinds of people right now: Those who embrace this new version of an old song, and those who drafting up bile-spewing posts destined for At Ease as we speak. We don't know which side we're on yet.
"House of Cards" 1:25: Yorke sounds like he's singing in a giant empty amphitheater. Producer Nigel Godrich makes his presence known on this song.
"House of Cards" 3:25: Alongside "Bodysnatchers," this song sounds the most similar to its live predecessor, right down to its 5:28 running time. Definitely the most laid-back song in the band's entire post-Bends oeuvre.
"Jigsaw Falling Into Place" 0:35: The song formerly known as "Open Pick." It becomes obvious from the onset that the In Rainbows "Open Pick" will not be as ferocious or fast-paced as its 2006 live versions suggested. Sandwiched between "House of Cards" and "Videotape," however, that's probably a good thing. Fans that lobbied for its inclusion might be a little pissed right now though.
"Jigsaw Falling Into Place" 2:20: Thom wakes up, his voice perks up, gets passionate, says something about a "sawed-off shotgun." The song starts to resemble its previous version, albeit cleaner and more restrained.
"Videotape" 0:25: Thom sings over wayward, mournful piano strikes. Definitely has the early vibe of Kid A's closer "Motion Picture Soundtrack."
"Videotape" 2:56: "Today has been the most perfect day I've ever seen." A touching last line for the album. Spastic drums irregularly pulse while the piano coda winds down toward the conclusion of In Rainbows. In the end, the first listen lacked the initial bombast we expected; the second half of the album was way calmer than we had anticipated, despite carrying two previously hard rockers. Was it worth the five-year wait? Absolutely.
So, tell us what you think of In Rainbows, if you're still awake ...