Coldplay is a really cool band. You play them for your parents, let them think you're a nice good kid who doesn't like that crazy punk rock. You're far more mature than that..... yeah..... Anyway X&Y, whether Coldplay intended it or not, it made Coldplay a genre of music. Bands that followed X&Y's release (Keane, for example) is another one of those... Coldplayish bands. Three years after the smash hit A Rush Of Blood To The Head, X&Y was released to mediocre reviews from such music "experts" as Rolling Stone and The New York Post. This truly effected Coldplay as a band. The most sensitive band in the world then got really quite pissed. (Ironically, both the Post AND Rolling Stone did interviews with the band raving about how big a success X&Y was).
A Rush Of Blood To The Head set the standards very high for a small British rockband that was originally given the unfortunate title "Starfish". AROBTTH's biggest hit was Clocks. So what do they do when they have a #1 hit on one album? Release it again, only this time on a NEW album! Yes you know it. Speed Of Sound
. Speed Of Sound, the first single off X&Y, is a total cash in on the success of Clocks. But disregarding that, it's a good song. It's a louder, upbeat track than most Coldplay's stuff, complete with some good basswork and a beautiful chorus where Chris's gentle falsetto. That falsetto still manages to give me chills from time to time. Dammit Chris. Bringing out the homosexuality in us all.... Anyway, Speed of Sound is a tailor made hit, and it is completely awesome when you disregard that it is Clocks, just written again.
The other single from X&Y so far is the truly beautiful Fix You
. Fix You, in the habit of previous Coldplay gems like Amsterdam, Fix You is all about encouragement. Like The Scientist, it is the big ballad single on the album, and is expectedly the 4th track. It's video, staying true to the tradition of every Coldplay album, is that of Chris walking. Why is he walking? No one knows. But somehow he shows up at a concert to finish off the song. Fix You is truly good when broken down. It has a very powerful bridge where all the band sings in perfect harmony over some riding guitarwork by Johnny Buckland. In the video, the crowd sings along with them which gives the song a really cool edge. The album version ends on a very gentle note, which is a strange dropoff from the power it was instilling with the bridge. But nevertheless it is a fine song.
The best work is done elsewhere though. In fact, the best work is so good, that no one actually knew getting the album that they'd find Coldplay's best X&Y song. The hidden track Til Kingdom Come
is Coldplay's nod to Johnny Cash, their idol. They wrote the song before he died, in anticipation of him singing it. But when he died, they just had a spare song, and threw it on the album. The result is an absolutely beautiful acoustic song with no drums or bass, just Chris and his guitar kicking major ass. It's interludes are truly heart wrenching. For those of you who've read my earlier reviews, I'm a huge sucker for ballads. Therefore, putting two and two together, I love this song.
Unfortuneately, an air of sameness plagues the rest of the album. There are two different songs on here. One is a slow ballad with some spacey rock behind it, or a harder rocking uptempo song. The Uptempo songs begin with the loud and, well, spacey Square One
. Square One's got some marvelously loud and spinning vocals. Chris's voice predominates here with the passion that has inspired the Coldplayish bands to follow. It's a good song. But imitators like White Shadows
only try to generate the same power Square One does. Therefore, instead of rating each track individually, it's far easier to rate the songs as a whole. They're rockers, without a doubt, and Chris's voice gives them the only power they could ever possibly hope to acheive. Thus they make up some of the skip tracks on the album. They're worth a spin or two, but there's not much hope for them.
The other type of song on X&Y is the power space ballad. And when you've written one, you've written them all. Songs like What If
and A Message
have some of the worst lyrics ever, but riding on emotion, they're quite good. They're different in their own rights, but they're predictable falsetto riding chorus's give off the impression that Coldplay was going to stick to the formula that garnered them success with AROBTTH. Patient listeners are rewarded however, with the last two tracks on the album, Swallowed In The Sea
and Twisted Logic
. Swallowed in the Sea is a charming little diddy with Chris singing simple lyrics over a flowing melody. It's power builds up throughout the song. It's like an upbeat, non-cynical (song) A Rush Of Blood To The Head. That gives it at least a listen, even if you've puked your guts out listening to the album. Twisted Logic is like a mix of the two types of X&Y songs I've mentioned. It starts out with Chris gently humming his words over some effect work. Then some Radiohead-esque guitar comes in which gives the song a really dark feel. Eventually everything builds up to the chorus of "You'll Go Backwards Again/You'll Go Forwards Again". Again, not truly Bob Dylan or Bono material, but they serve their purpose woth Martin singing them. It's a good semi-closer for the album.
X&Y is a pretty non-risky album. The whole of it is great, complete with some beauties and other sweet numbers. The guitar work here is by far the ebst on any Coldplay album, so cheers to Johnny Buckland. As usual, it's all about Mr. Martin, for without his voice, Coldplay would not have redefined the art of gentle rock. It's a multi-platinum album, the biggest one Coldplay's ever done. However, it feels like it could have been so much more. The sameness makes the album forgettable when standing next to AROBTTH.
Speed Of Sound
Til Kingdom Come
Chris's vocals, as usual.
Some truly beautiful tracks.
Johnny's guitar work on several songs.
A lot of same-sounding songs.
Bad, bad lyrics
A poor followup to a gem of an album.
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