For anyone who didn’t already know, In Rainbows was released again on 1/1/08. This time it costs, and most everyone will get to buy it with their own currency. (I mean, we all know that there are those of you out there that didn’t buy it before because, come on, that conversion tool is just plain confusing!)

Obviously we’re not going to review the actual music again. The only thing that really matters about this release is the fact that it is, after all, the physical release – it’s all about the presentation.

And, no matter how overrated you might think Radiohead is you can’t deny that the packaging is pretty. It’s a digipack and that almost says enough in itself. The once ridiculous looking artwork (well, at least in the size we all got it) comes out beautifully as a physical artifact.

Once one actually opens In Rainbows up we’re treated to more paintings of beautiful galaxies and two stickers complete with directions (which make absolutely no sense, by the way) on how to, presumably, get the sticker off. But somewhere in there we know there’s a disc that, no matter how insufficient our speakers are to the thousands of people complaining about the quality of the download (160 kbps!) on StereoGum, will lead us to import it on our computers in its proper CD quality. (Well, vinyl is probably the gold-standard here . . .)

We also get a lyric sheet arranged, like any other indie-legend (or rising legend) with the words spread out with erratic spacing creating somewhat elaborate designs, and more transportive art

No one wants to talk about it anymore than you do, but opening up In Rainbows is more than enough to remind us all of what a bittersweet time we’ve entered into when, more every year, physical records (although one assumes that they will always survive in some small novelty form, just as vinyls exist today) ceases to exist.

Ironic. One could say that Radiohead predicted or proclaimed the end of the physical artifact of music, and record companies themselves, only to remind us why we liked it (the physical copy, at least) in the first place.

About The Author

Tim Zila

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