Radiohead’s In Rainbows – Good Album, Terrible User Experience
A couple of weeks ago the esteemed Mr. Wallz mentioned that Radiohead was giving their next album away for free – sort of. The deal is that you can pay any amount you want for the MP3 version, from $0 on up. They are not going through iTunes or Amazon or anyone else and are selling direct from the album’s website.
I went, I bought, I listened. The verdict? Good album, incredibly terrible website. Seriously, the site looks and acts like something that crawled from the depths of 1998, escaping some doomed graphic artist’s college portfolio and wreaking havok on unsuspecting downloaders everywhere.
Here’s a screenshot of the registration screen. Too many fields, and too many required fields. Do they really need my mobile phone number?
Yes, the entire web site looks like that. It’s like someone asked their 4-year old to draw a rainbow in Microsoft Paint and then saved and re-saved it as a jpeg 100 times.
Here’s one more shot so you never forget the horror:
I muddled my way through and decided to pay $7, or 3 pounds plus a half-pound processing fee. That’s about what I pay for used CDs, and I am lazy and cheap so used CDs account for most of my CD buying habits.
The music was worth it. Disclaimer: what follows is a music review by someone with no experience or talent at writing music reviews. You’ve been warned.
15 Step – the drum samples sounded really glitchy – like low-rate MP3 artifacts. The rest of the tracks don’t have the same issue, so I think the choice was intentional. Still, not a good way to lead off what will be many listener’s first MP3 purchase.
Bodysnatchers – things are picking up, but the guitar at the beginning sounds like it filtered through an AM radio. I like the dueling riffs.
Nude – Nice slow song, and I liked it, but this is the sort of Radiohead song I end up skipping because I’m driving late at night it I don’t want to run the car into a ravine.
Weird Fishes/Arpeggi – If they were still making X-Files episodes, this would make a great soundtrack to an episode where long-dead ghosts are given hope.
All I Need – A good song for a bad mood.
Faust Arp – Every Radiohead album needs a song with urgent, repetitive phrases. Thsi one is a little too short.
Reckoner – At this point I’m getting a little tired of the string section. Not a bad song, but I need a little more rock.
House of Cards – The guitar and percussion make this song surprisingly intimate – I could almost picture myself in a small bar listening to some band from England.
Jigsaw Falling Into Place – Great song with some nice spots where different instruments are layered over each other, but it stopped just when I thought it was really going to take off.
Videotape – This is as good a place as any to close the album – very pretty but low-key.
Overall I thought In Rainbows was yet another good album from Radiohead, but there wasn’t a lot that really stood out. A little bit more like Jigsaw Falling Into Place would have been nice, just something to breakup the mood a little. The album does get better with a little more listening, so well worth the $7 I paid for it.Written by Jason
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