Coldplay - X&Y

2006-03-29 23:03

Large record company needs a few million? No problem! Although they took a bit longer than forecast to get their ducks in a row, Coldplay are a pretty sure thing. This band have a formula that works. Nothing too wrong with that.

Despite their reputation as misery merchants, Coldplay have never been only about gloom and doom. In fact, they're equal parts torment and euphoria - a great recipe for pop success.

On X&Y, they're no longer lonely, single or struggling to reach the top. Accustomed to the downsides of fame, they're now writing about the fear of losing what they have - love, family, friendship, success - and the persistent mysteriousness of life. The X factor and the Why, maybe?

The personal, in this album, is a plural. A lot of the words seem to be addressed to a loved one, offering encouragement and support in times of torment and sometimes begging for contact.

Like their previous work, the music on X&Y seems to be calling on the listener to surrender to sadness, to glory in gloom and to ache for more then the mundane. Resigned to its pain, it's the kind of record you could cry to while driving your fairly OK car to the comforting trap of your office job.

Unfortunately, despite the accessible potency of the Coldplay formula, it doesn't survive the extra ingredients that have been added on X&Y. Though Chris Martin's vocals still take centre stage, the trusted, sparse sound has been replaced with arrangements thick with effects, deflavoured U2 guitar, and other clutter. If Martin still has that British accent, you can't hear it. The intimacy that made their previous music so appealing is subsumed by flawless overproduction. The lyrics are for the most part blandly incomprehensible instead of quirkily poetic.

Worst of all, X&Y lacks one essential part of the Coldplay formula: Pop. We forgave them for being less than original because they made catchy tracks out of pain with songs like "Clocks" and "Yellow". But as epic as X&Y seems to be trying to be, the songs verge on forgettable. A large wash of angst, a pleasurable kind of blues, is all you're left with when it's over.

Although the title track, and the first single "Speed of Sound" definitely some close to hooking you, none of their new sure hits would have made the world sit up and listen if Coldplay were not already famous. (In an ideal world, we'd be buying Durban band Deluxe's new album - This is Deluxe - instead.)

Of course, Coldplay are nothing if not professional. So X&Y is packed with slickly detailed sounds, and lovely tunes. It even has its sublime moments, like on "White Shadows" that "sparkle and glisten". As a quality product? Full marks. Fans will, and should buy it. Low grade, U2 flavoured Coldplay is better than none! But unfortunately, a few of Coldplay's much maligned imitators (Athlete in particular) have produced a new version of the same thing since Coldplay last released an album, and the changes that Coldplay have made are for the generic. They might make you understand them, but they won't make you feel it with them.

When so many people imitate you that your sound has become tired, you may feel it's unfair. But unusually talented bands will do as U2 or Radiohead did, and break new ground. They do not allow fame, company profits, or creeping complacency to trap them. Coldplay could try imitating that, too.

- Jean Barker

Click links to watch Coldplay's excellent videos online. Use ADSL on a fast connection for higher quality, and Dial-up if you're on a 56kbps Modem or you're in a hurry.

"Clocks - Live"


It may be pointless to hate them, but with this album, they've almost certainly become the easiest band on the planet to be completely indifferent to.
- Joe Tangari for Pitchfork Media

This album is superb. It'll silence their critics, amaze their fans and win them a whole new legion of admirers. It might even bring about world peace!
- Dan Tallis for BBC

Like Coldplay's excellent previous albums - Parachutes (2000) and A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002) - X&Y deals with the personal, touching only obliquely on the political. Their freedom from polemic and their clever synthesis of Radiohead, U2, REM, Smiths and Pink Floyd sold millions. Frontman Chris Martin's groany-whiney vocals and beautiful keyboards took spacious, stadium friendly melodies to the top of the charts.

yeller 2005/06/13 11:03 AM
X, Y, U too "X&Y" is the best album U2 haven't made in years. While it's a finely crafted set of intelli-rock songs, and while it's still worth walking the yellow-brick road, it's just such an awful shame that somewhere, somehow, we've lost what made Coldplay unique. Before pissing away the profits of their achingly beautiful angst-pop in a wash of generalised modern rock, they should have looked to their British legacy. The Smiths stayed their unique and redefining course for more than half a dozen albums before degrading into Electronic drabness and the 53rd State of Morrissey. Of course it's important and exciting that Coldplay are still here, and of course "X&Y" has haunting moments and a live performance of the songs might be life changing. It's just depressing that this third offering is so much less than it could be - and that depression no longer has the soundtrack it deserves. Parachutes
Guillaume 2005/06/13 8:21 PM
A rush of blood to the head was a lot better The last cd was better only if your a coldplay fan like me
Jean 2005/06/20 3:17 PM
Overreacting This album isn't everything some people might have hoped for but I think a lot of people are overreacting and slamming it. It's a good album, it's just not amazing. Gorillaz - Demon Days
Naeem Essop 2005/07/05 10:35 AM
Coldplay X & Y Well,I Think this album is da bomb since 2000 you might think why to buy da cd because it only has one nice track,dont be fooled by what people tell you. This album is extrodinary and its worth it. Coldplay X & Y (duh)
israr 2005/08/30 1:15 PM
x&y The parachutes album was alot better than this and most people expected more out of x&y but over all its a good album..the hardest part is my track... id definately recommend this album
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