Elizabeth Stolfi
staff writer
September 29, 2005
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Rock Music Reviews
X & Y

Not since Oasis' Be Here Now has a british band's third album been as important and anticipated as Coldplay's X & Y. When Be Here Now did not live up to the hype, the entire genre of brit-pop collapsed onto itself, and the first british invasion since the 60's officially came to an end.

With the release of their sophomore album, A Rush of Blood to the Head, Coldplay single-handedly lead the next invasion of America, redefining brit-pop as dramatic piano rock, a style that bands like Travis had already made popular in the UK. Adult contemporary, rock, and pop radio spinned "Clocks," Rush of Blood's runaway hit, like it was going out of style. It wasn't.

Perhaps Be Here Now wouldn't have been so disappointing if someone other than Liam Gallagher thought it was brilliant. The band's messy and drunken lifestyle caught up with them, and was spread all over their messy and drunken third album. Coldplay has been the polar opposite, having a reputation for being charming and well behaved (as far as rock stars go), and creating a third album that could possibly surpass the success of their second.

The first track of X & Y does not slap you in the face like Rush of Blood's "Politik" did. This album takes a bit of a different approach, building slowly to a climax in the middle tracks, and then bringing you back down. Musically, Coldplay remains as Coldplay as ever. Avoiding the OK Computer syndrome, the band subtly adds changes to their sound, without dramatically changing the formula that's already worked so well. The albums's first track, "Square One," is a little Echo and the Bunnyman mixed with some U2 circa 1983.

In the second track, "What if?," lead singer Chris Martin reveals his insecurities of his well documented picture perfect relationship with actress Gwennyth Paltrow. "What if you should decide that you don't want me there in your life," asks Martin. It wouldn't be so impactful if it weren't for the chorus of, "Let's take a breath/jump over the side," sung in Martin's trademark high pitched wail.
Keyboards and echoes fill every lose end of the album. Johnny Buckland's lushy power chords mixed with his Edge inspired riffs create a signature sound that the band perfected so early in their career. On album highlight, "Fix You," Coldplay is likely to convince anyone that album #3 is nothing close to a disappointment. A slow build, and an ending of a dozen Chris Martin's singing, "Tears stream down your face/when you lose something you cannot replace," make up one of the best songs the band has ever done.

The album's single, "Speed of Sound," has already taken over the radio, both in the UK and in the states. Similar to "Clocks" in many ways, the song's overwhelming pre-chorus, packed with guitars, pianos, strings, keyboards and another trademark wail of Martin's ("All that noise/and all that sound") create one of the album's best moments.

The pounding of the piano signifies a third album that proves a band can be relied upon. And though most are convinced that A Rush of Blood to the Head is virtually impossible to top, at the very least, Coldplay has tied themselves, and Brit-pop is definitely maybe alive and well.

Release date: June 7, 2005
Label: Capitol
Rating: 9.0 / 10