I'm a very cheap man.
There, I've said it.
I don't own anything on which to burn this new fangled album by Radiohead onto (it's called 'In Rainbows'... aw), so I have to carry it around on my phone. The only time I get to listen to it is when I'm walking to and from friend's houses, usually at the dead of night when the streets are populated by a bitter winter cold and lonely drunks swinging at invisible insects and muttering idly in tongues.
Ideal conditions for Radiohead, really.
So, here comes the beat: fast-paced, disintegrating and tinged with WARP (which, surely, is no bad thing). '15 Steps' and in comes the boy Yorke's falsetto and they play the ol' beat switcheroo. Here it comes... here comes the guitar, that big moment that every Radiohead fan hungers over like a grey-toothed pavlovian junky waiting for that knock on the door, his track marks weeping at the appearance of THE MAN. Hold your breath because here we g---- oh.
Did I take a left into 'Jazz-land?'
There is a certain feeling of Squarepusher circa 'Feed Me Weird Things' with Boards of Canada's sampling of kids (that's not an accusation, by the way). Tasty and twisted - but is '15 Steps' Radiohead, even with the dirty breakdown at the end? It's another one of those artistic leaps they tend to make: From Pablo Honey (Gnarly punk) to The Bends (Anthemic rock) to OK Computer (Anthemic post-rock) to Kid A (WARP-ed beats) and... Well, then they kind of stalled drifting between guitar anthems and dirty Aphex-tious beats - add a little jazz, a pinch of dub and that's where we find them now.
'Body-snatchers' & 'Nude' are quick reminders of the Radiohead of yore. The former contains by far their dirtiest riff since 'National Anthem'; the latter is classic 'sing-a-long' Radiohead taken literally from the OK Computer sessions. Speaking of OK Computer the last of the songs that hark back to that period is 'All I Need' which is the clear antithesis of 'Climbing Up the Walls': Blissful, deep and a build-up that leaves you breathlessly wanting more. This is, however, not necessarily a good thing.
This trimming of the best parts happens again with the awesome 'Reckoner'. It holds in it's grasp a lovely Unkle-esque beat that is clearly reminiscent of 'Rabbit in Your Headlights' and has possibly the loveliest ending to any Radiohead song I've heard in a long time. Unfortunately, it ends far too prematurely. So much so that I have to listen to it over and over and over to get the fix those strings so lavishly offer and that the fade so cruelly snatches away. I can hear that little noise junky in my head scraping at the proverbial spoon for just one more hit; one more lick of the good stuff. I hope when they release the album proper they extend it or at the very least expand it when playing live. It's the worst kind of cruelty. Christ, I might even have to loop it myself. Then again, I might as well listen to 'Unfinished Sympathy' - that's the feeling it invokes.
It's a good feeling.
The album as a whole is what is scientifically known as a 'grower'. My initial feeling was mixed at best (and I am THE Radiohead fan) but, that's how I know an album is good. All my favourite albums have taken a while to adjust to - be it the alien worlds they invoke ('Kid A' or My Bloody Valentine's 'Loveless'), esoteric musicality (Slint) - whatever. But it means that you will listen to it far more, become bored far slower (all albums have a life-span, folks), than the standard shapes and sounds thrown at you by other, lesser music.
Still, I haven't got to grips with the reggae/lover's rock tinge of 'House of Cards'. That one may take a while.
Before you go.
Do me a favour: the middle-eight of 'Body-Snatchers' (easy there, Mozart), when Mr Yorke sings: 'It is the 21st Century', is it me or does it sound alot like a Eric Cartmen singing karaoke?
Maybe it's just me.