Introducing The Coldplays

20 06 2008

The oft-labeled “biggest band in the world” has a new album out. And it’s pretty dang good.

The thing about Coldplay is that they can write a helluva single; it’s their full-length albums that don’t always hold up to scrutiny. The breakthrough “A Rush of Blood to the Head” was pretty consistent, though nothing soared to the heights of “Clocks” or even “In My Place.” 2005’s “X & Y” is neat with its Kraftwerk and U2 nods, but nothing on the disc comes close to the epic single “Fix You.” And trying to stay awake through the band’s debut, “Parachutes,” is a daunting task. At least “Yellow” was good. Oh, that was mean. The record still trumped most that came out that year.

On “Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends,” Chris Martin and company do their darnedest to craft an album — and they mostly succeed. The album is cohesive and consistent…yet somehow extremely eclectic. I mean, is that a hammered dulcimer I hear?

Brian Eno (not helping the U2-aping allegations much) jumped on board to produce the album. His touch is felt in some of the thick world music-influenced soundscapes on the record. The vocals are anthemic, the guitars are chiming and the lyrics are political. Well, Coldplay may never escape U2’s shadow, but I guess there’s enough of that soul-searching arena rock to go around.

Tight record or not, there are always some standout tracks…”42,” “Viva la Vida” and “Lost!” are my picks.

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