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Coldplay - X&Y Print E-mail
Tuesday, 07 June 2005


format: 16-bit Stereo CD
label: Capitol Records
release year: 2005
performance: 7
sound 7
reviewed by: Dan MacIntosh

Image Coldplay’s music is much closer to a drizzle than a downpour. Instead of raining down hard and leaving a lasting impression, it merely falls lightly before quickly drying up and disappearing. It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of this British band’s artistic ineffectiveness. But even though their songs are consistently melodic and pretty, they nevertheless come off as trite and forgettable – even though they’re sold as “big statements.”
The new X&Y album is the group’s third release, and with each new project it grows – at least commercially – in leaps and bounds. As with Radiohead, Coldplay fans attach themselves to the band like shellfish stuck on sea coral. Nevertheless, Chris Martin and his band mates clearly lack that group’s undeniable mystique. Instead, Coldplay appears to be reaching – albeit unsuccessfully – for the broad appeal of, say, U2. But the big difference between U2 and Coldplay is found in the lead vocalist department. Bono is just far more charismatic than Martin. So much so, in fact, that even when Bono speaks, everybody hushes up and listens. Furthermore, U2 as a unit combines sweeping musical arrangements with lyrics that can be sarcastically funny one minute, dead serious the next. Martin, on the other hand, is far too introspective most of the time. His words are never ever funny, either.

Although it’s tough to pick out a common theme running through the songs on this recording, Martin sure does have what I’ll call a Home Depot attitude. And by that I mean he seems to want to be a meddling Mr. Fix It. “I will try to fix you,” he sings on “Fix It,” and “X&Y” finds him trying to fix something that is broken. But what is Martin attempting to mend? Is it himself, someone close to him, or just this troubled world of ours? Mr. Fix It is also Mr. Vague, unfortunately, so it’s awfully hard to figure out what’s going on around the artist’s busy workbench.

Instrumentally, keyboards of almost every variety are Coldplay’s central accompaniments, which is why the ringing guitars that introduce “Low,” and the acoustic guitar/organ combination of “Kingdom Come,” are so refreshing. Conversely, whenever piano hooks drive Coldplay tunes, the songs somehow lose their teeth. And speaking of teeth, it would sure help a great deal if Martin showed his Chicklets now and again. Would it really hurt him to growl a little bit and get angry once in a while? Instead, he’s like the constantly relaxed Perry Como of Emo here, all whiny and sad.

X&Y is said to have been labored over, and it sure sounds like it. Coldplay spit-shined this little one to near perfection. When this disc plays, however, it fills the room with orchestral rock beauty, which is something few other bands have mastered.

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