If you were expecting this addition to the most talked about record of the year to be to In Rainbows what Amnesiac was to Kid A you will be slightly disappointed. This is 8 songs but only 26 minutes long and serves as a worthy accompaniment to the original record. It differs both in pace and mood to In Rainbows and seems more like preparatory sketches after being dazzled by the finished painting. They don't have the same level of rich production, they are of a much more relaxed tempo and lack the same breadth of direction that their counterparts have. Having said that they manage to take all the uncharacteristic warmth of In Rainbows and turn it inward to the more haunting and desolate place we are used to seeing this band.
Where the first disc ends this one picks up with the opening Mk1's solemn piano chords echoing Video Tape. Many of these songs use the piano to create the sombre mood that dominates this record and with the help of soaring strings like on Go Slowly, Amnesiac's Pyramid Song becomes the main comparison for the first half of the album. It's not until Up On The Ladder that the mood shifts. This is a lip-curling rumble of a song that plods along full of tension on the minimal beat and deep guitar and though it threatens to explode it exercises merciless restraint and just fades away. The explosion is left for the following song. A crowd favorite at last years live shows Bangers And Mash is the muscle behind this record. Grinding guitars and Yorke's frenzied vocals lift the tempo at a vital point and as it all collapses in a heap of exhaustion the dust settles on the sublime closer 4 Minute Warning. It's a cavernous and empty song with the vocals brought right forward to an intimate closeness. It finishes this mini album off in the manner by which it started. Sedate and withdrawn, these songs are the less approachable and introvert cousin of the first record and actually have more in common with the haunting and empty feel of Kid A or Amnesiac than any of the more recent songs.
Having lived with In Rainbows for some time now it is emerging as one of the most complete Radiohead albums to date and for that reason it's hard to add anything to this. But this second disc avoids the 'add on' feel and shows us the darker underbelly of its predecessor. The disc comes with a generous helping of Stanley Donwood in the form of more than 60 digital artworks and even more behind the scenes band photos. The whole disc box is a treat to explore and really reignites the lost art of the record sleeve. The throwaway nature of the albums initial release is reversed with this exquisite packaging and elaborate presentation. It will probable go away into the cupboard now but will be something to treasure none the less.