Tuesday, May 31, 2005

album review - coldplay "x&y"

after 33 months of waiting for a new coldplay album, my ears can finally relax. i am hesitant to write album reviews because my opinions about songs and albums are constantly changing. whatever i say here may be the exact opposite of how i feel in a few weeks or months, but with this album i thought i should at least write some initial reactions.

first of all, if you want in on the action you can go to this mtv asia site and stream the whole album yourself. so, just a little background first. i have been obsessed with coldplay since seeing them perform at the 9:30 club in washington d.c. on august 8, 2002. it was three weeks before "a rush of blood to the head" came out and hearing those songs for the first time in that environment turned me from a normal fan into a lunatic. here i was expecting a chill concert of ballads like "sparks" and "trouble" and the first few chords of "politik" knocked my socks off within 5 seconds.

this album comes with enormous expectations and is already being criticised for not "progressing" their sound from the last album. having "speed of sound" for the first single made it tough to retort to those remarks. it's opening bars are remarkably similar to "clocks" and the sound isn't anything new. but hearing the whole album makes me think that they have progressed and here's how. i feel like their songwriting has adapted to their success in the sense that each progressive album seems to be catering to where they will be showcased. "parachutes" is a very intimate album with lots of introspective, small songs that seem best suited for a small club like the 9:30. at that time, i don't think they even thought that many people would hear them. "yellow" and "shiver" being the exceptions.

then "a rush of blood to the head" came and was much bigger. "daylight", "a whisper", "politik", and "clocks" all sound like a band writing in anticipation of playing some auditoriums, like the grady cole center in charlotte where i saw them again. "amsterdam" and "a rush of blood to the head" tied the two albums together just as "speed of sound" and "square one" tie the new one to the old. and now with "x&y" coldplay are writing like a band playing in stadiums. even the ballads like "fix you" and "what if" sound larger than "we never change" from the first album.

after one listen, the true standout is "white shadows" but there is nary a miss in sight. granted, this was the review everyone expected from me, but the album is just fucking good. from "fix you" to "talk" to "the hardest part" to the johnny cash inspired bonus track "till kingdom come" there is something new and exciting to each track.

i will say this. i doubt there is much here to turn detractors into fans and vice versa, but i don't think that indicates a lack of experimentation. it's just that coldplay can seemingly try anything without losing the charm and style that brought them their fans in the first place. but if you didn't like "the scientist", you ain't gonna like "swallowed in the sea".

bottom line i guess is, predictably i love the new cd and am gonna listen to it a fuck of a lot. but i don't think it's because i'm willing to cut them slack on anything. i truly think it's the third of many albums from a band that is gonna be around for a very long time.

overall grade - A-


Anonymous Sean McElwee said...


4:44 PM  
Anonymous Brendan said...

Coldplay has officially become elevator music.

11:18 AM  

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