Coldplay shoulders the unenviable burden of being labelled the Next Big Thing from Britain — their debut album Parachutes offered up the quirky hit single “Yellow,” and with their forelorn songs of love lost and unrequited, the young men were being viewed as the despairing heirs to the likes of Morrissey and The Smiths. Attendees of a recent New York show included Gwyneth Paltrow and the Gallagher Brothers (that’s Noel and Liam, not the guy who crushed watermelons and his brother).
The prerelease buzz on their sophomore effort, A Rush of Blood To The Head, was that it was bigger, bolder, and would put them firmly atop the Brit Pop heap, next to Oasis and giving Radiohead a run for their money. Some have even gone so far as to say that Coldplay’s new grandiose arena-rock sound could help make them the next U2. High praise and high expectations, indeed.
They’re not quite there, but they’re awfully close. Rush is no OK Computer, as it lacks the scope, originality and consistency of Radiohead’s brilliant third album. But there are many sparkling moments here, and the growth Coldplay has shown between Parachutes and Rush rivals that of Radiohead between Pablo Honey and The Bends.
Call it OK Palm Pilot.
The best moments come in the gorgeous “In My Place,” which opens with a “When The Levee Breaks”-style drum beat, and quickly gives way to a chiming, Edge-like guitar and string section. Chris Martin’s raspy voice bleeds emotion. Think U2’s “Beautiful Day” meets the Dave Matthews Band’s “Space Between.”
At times, Coldplay reaches other peaks, as in the Eastern-influenced “Daylight,” the head versus heart battle of “The Scientist,” the apocalyptic title track, and the despondent “Amsterdam” (“C’mon, oh my star is fading/and I see no chance of release/and I know I’m dead on the surface/but I am screaming underneath”). Many times, they seem to be channeling Wish You Were Here-era Pink Floyd (“Politik” and “The Scientist”). And while their sound has gotten bigger and bolder, much of the delicate vulnerability displayed on the first album (especially in the vocals of Chris Martin, whose falsetto flights call to mind Jeff Buckley) remains.
However, Rush suffers from occasional repetitiveness, not so much in the sound from track to track, but in the song structures and tempos. Many songs follow the same two bar riff intro/build on riff verse/chorus/riff pattern and feature dominating on-the-quarter-note rhythms either from the guitar or the piano (most notable in the opening track, “Politik”). But given the maturity shown between this album and their last, it’s certain that they can grow out of this over time.
Overall, the album’s strong moments far outshine any shortcomings, and the disc is well worth owning. The potential is there for great things. And if you act now, you can say you were there before they were Big.
* * * * (out of 5)Powered by Sidelines