Chris Martin & Co. come up close in delivering another epic
Perhaps the most anticipated album of the year, Coldplay's
X&Y delivers but falls just short of the dizzying heights
reached on 2002's stellar A Rush Of Blood To The Head. But
X&Y sure tries hard to better its predecessor. In reaching
for magnum-opus status, leadoff track "Square One" even
uses a variation of the 2001 theme to set the stage for an epic outing.
From there, X&Y takes you on an intergalactic journey through
space and time in a quest for answers of the universe that elude us
all: the "White Shadows" of the world; things that we know
exist but don't understand.
While X&Y is a solid work with no filler, it ultimately
feels like Coldplay on autopilot, never straying too far from familiar
territory. In fact, several strands of X&Y's DNA contain
near-identical strumming structures and minimal melodic progressions
as heard previously on breakout hit "Yellow" and over half
of the songs on Rush Of Blood.... Furthermore, Chris Martin's
keening falsetto can wear on you at times, especially when it often
opens a handful of songs. These earmarks may comprise Coldplay's formula,
but it's one that's less potent with X&Y.
Jon Buckland's gleaming guitar sound gives X&Y
a euphonic radiance, but overall there are fewer high points here
than on Rush Of Blood..., although the emotive buildup in "Fix
You" is sure to be an almost spiritual experience in concert.
Unlisted closing track "'Til Kingdom Come" is a poignant
ode to the late Johnny Cash and a refreshing delight that makes
you wish Coldplay unplugged a few more times. And one edge X&Y
does have over earlier albums is an urgency that yields faster songs
(pulsing rocker "White Shadows") and catchier beats ("Square
Textually, Martin's lyrics are mostly mediocre and generic enough
to have a universal scope. Within many songs he alternates between
existential musings for the general public and confessions of love
for Ms. Paltrow. There's also a running thread of the importance
of trying, as well as the need for basic communication amongst the
cacophony of confusion in the world ("Talk"). Martin also
discusses possible political vacillation on swirling jam "Twisted
U2's influence throughout X&Y is undeniable, but
attempts to equate Coldplay as the next U2 are premature and just
plain unfair to Bono & Co. Like U2, however, Coldplay's
music does have an astounding appeal that resonates strongly with
In "Talk", which features starry Edge-like guitar
licks, Martin poses this notion of incompletion: "Do you feel
like a puzzle, you can't find your missing piece?"
If Coldplay really wants to reach the peak of the musical mountain
where they believe U2 reigns, they'll first need to consider this
question for themselves.
1. Square One
2. What If
3. White Shadows
4. Fix You
7. Speed of Sound
8. A Message
10. The Hardest Part
11. Swallowed in the Sea
12. Twisted Logic
13. Til Kingdom Come
Standout Tracks: "White Shadows", "Fix You",
"Swallowed In The Sea", "'Til Kingdom Come"
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