Review Summary: A Rush Of Blood To The Head is a record deserving of its legacy, that should be listened to despite your general feelings about Coldplay.
It's been lauded by many as one of the greatest albums of all time; a brilliant second album, a truly symphonic opus. AROBTTH (I might just call it that) is an album that definitely has a legacy, proving once again that less equals more.
The album opener, Politik, is most unusual for Coldplay: a tune you can headbang to. Precisely six notes into the song you will see how many bands Coldplay is trying to rip off - none. A sort of ballad-hard rock combo deserves to be a single, especially for the piano interlude in the middle. The lyrics are the best on the album, no doubt; devoid of any cliches or cringingly bad mush that often plague Chris Martin's writing. On the flipside however, it still feeds the haters, who may call it repetitive and boring at the same time, when in reality it is passionate and beautiful to a keen listener.
Similarly, In My Place will feed the haters, but so does everything, doesn't it? A chiming, contagious guitar riff is carried along by Martin's pleading, almost droney vocals and Berryman and Champions usual "that's enough" bass and drum lines that fill songs but don't expand them. Added to this is a light covering of beautiful strings and synths that transform the song into a pretty, well paced ballad that doesn't bore.
This is in perfect contrast with the much harder God Put A Smile Upon Your Face. The acoustic guitar lick gives it a great (pardon my nostaligaic speech) groove, the electric guitar makes the song haunting and rocking yet catchy, the double time drum beat keeps the song moving very nicely and the bass line is more then ordinary, which is a good thing for a Coldplay song. The lyrics are decently cryptic and thought provoking and the tune is so sing-a-long its contagious. It moves at a fast pace and shows a more energetic, enjoyable side of Coldplay we really only saw once before then with Shiver (a shameless Jeff Buckley rippoff in any case). This is definitely one of the best moments on the album and deserves a spot in your playlist.
The contrast continues with the try-hard-but-somehow-manages-to-succeed ballad The Scientist, a slow, piano driven carriage for some quite *** lyrics, a nice melody and some Chris Martin try-hardiness. It's a good thing, despite it's obviousness, and especially so when the electric guitar comes in near the end with a lovely, catchy guitar riff that makes a good song a great one. Nothing here that's too amazing, if not rather great, although the video is worth checking out. He spent a month learning the lyrics backwards to do that, by the way.
Riff-whoring follows in the beautiful Clocks, which can tend to be a bit undescribable. Repetitive is a good word, however I doubt you could find another bad word to describe this soothing, beautiful riff plugged into this soothing, beautiful song. The syncopated beat makes the song very catchy, and Martin's lyrics are once again, half decent. The bass and guitar lines, whilst filling, are unimportant. Its the beat, the riff and the voice that matters here, and that translates into a very enjoyable 5 minutes. The recurring, circling piano riff will definitely make it a mesmerising one.
Following Clocks is a rather dissapointing note - Daylight. Nothing here sounds too original or amazing - the chorus is worth a look, but otherwise it's a bit ordinary. The bass line works, the guitar line works, the piano works and it all fits together well, but it doesn't really sparkle like it should, given the name. The lyrics are, once again, not brilliant, but then again, who cares anymore?
Green Eyes is a folky, unusual ballad that works fairly well. Reminiscent of corny country music, this is almost feels like Coldplay's take on the country and western scene. It's more touching and personal then that though; while the lyrics may be ***, the way Chris sings them is spot on and will make you cry inside. After the guitar comes in it gets a bit odd and very country - it might suit a slightly less swung, staggered feel - but that's long in the past now!
Repetitive and corny, Warning Sign ticks all the signs for a tear jerker ballad, and probably represents one too many on this album. The Scientist is the big ballad, Green Eyes is the singalong ballad - and Warning Sign is the annoying ballad. A great chorus is filled out with the kind of backing that makes it seem like they were at the last minute with a great song and they needed to finish it off really quickly, if that makes sense. Worth the playlist, just for the chorus, although it's not really that touching or impressive.
After the ballads and slows, we finally come to another lively, powerful song for Coldplays set - the criminally underrated A Whisper. In my mind, this takes the hard part of Politik and makes it better. Missing out on the slow part of Politik allows this song to focus on power, brilliant choruses and licks. The lyrics focus upon death, cryptically and interestingly and are carriaged by great guitar licks and riffs, an honestly great bass line and some beautiful synths and strings that carry the song out perfectly and lead into the next track.
The title track represents one of, if not the best moments on the record. It's Politik redone with a smoother, more impressive approach that allows the listener to get lost in the music. The almost unsettling but always enjoyable volume changes in the catchy, bouncy chorus that ponders fear of making a big movement. Everything you find in here will be great, representing a perfect ballad-cum-rocker that blows all your expectations of what you thought Coldplay were capable of creating.
However, the best moment on the album is Amsterdam. While it's definitely not perfect, with some pretty crap lyrics, it definitely has soul to a tee. Martin's singing is top notch, but you wait until the chorus; the catchiest thing since The Beatles, and the most beautiful since Moonlight Sonata. This makes up for it's flaws, and this multiplies in the ending, where we see the same thing again, with powerful guitar, drum and bass that carry the song through in a way that will send chills down your spine. A mature, lovely ballad-cum-rocker, similar to the title track and the lead track, is what Coldplay does best, and it does it well here.
All in all, this record represents a definite Magnum Opus for Coldplay, no exceptions. Good from the start to finish, if not great in some spots. It flows well, makes for easy listening, as well as very enjoyable listening.
God Put A Smile Upon Your Face
A Rush Of Blood To The Head