Coldplay


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Parachutes , 6/10
A Rush Of Blood To The Head , 5/10
X & Y (2005), 4.5/10
Viva La Vida (2008), 5.5/10
Mylo Xyloto (2011), 4.5/10
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(Clicka qua per la versione Italiana)

Coldplay, fronted by singer Chris Martin and guitarist Jonny Buckland, is the English band that, at the end of the decade, summarized everything that Brit-pop had produced, from Verve's melincholia to Radiohead's retro-futurism, from Smiths sweet condescension to Suede's decadent vein. The EP Safety (Coldplay, 1998), containing the first version of Bigger Stronger, the single Brothers And Sisters (Fierce Panda, 1999) and the five-song EP The Blue Room (Parlophone, 1999), with High Speed and Don't Panic, showcased a kinder, gentler form of Brit-pop.

The album Parachutes (Parlophone, 2000), that entered the British charts at number one, was mainly a display of dynamic and emotional ranges, as if to prove that, after so many failures (Blur, Oasis) the genre has acquired maturity and solidity. Despite the fact that their hit single, Yellow, relies on yet another catchy, upbeat refrain, songs like the majestic, stately, anthemic Everything's Not Lost and the tracks already published on EP present a fresh and sober take on melodic rock. Sparks and Trouble are derivative of the Smiths, but the whole album is just one gigantic summary of British pop. Martin is a better vocalist than this derivative album allows him to be, as proven by his falsetto acrobatics in Shiver.

A Rush Of Blood To The Head (Capitol, 2002) clarifies that the hype was just that: hype. One song (In My Place) boasts a slow guitar carillon, a wall of strings and a calm aria, and one (Clocks) has a cascading piano pattern and soaring keyboards topped with U2-style vocal pomp. A few have atmospheric piano all over the lyrics (the piano-based elegy Scientist, Daylight). The rest is generic, trivial power-pop (God Put A Smile On Your Face), or aimless atmospheric ballads like Warning Sign and A Rush of Blood to the Head. At least Politik alternates ominous massive banging with the dreamy chanting, and A Whisper has a hypnotic mantra with psychedelic outbursts. The melodies were even more mediocre, but what mattered is the way the song was structured and orchestrated.

X & Y (Capitol, 2005) is neither the long overdue artistic statement nor a continuation of the band's facile melodic exploitation. It is monotonous and predictable like a sequence of Hollywood endings, a long parade of dejavus. Neither of its predecessors was particularly clever or original, but at least one could feel the passion vibrating inside the singer's whining voice and the existential paralysis behind the (mediocre) instrumental backing. X & Y "is" that paralysis without that passion. Like so many mainstream pop acts before them, from the Beatles to Oasis, Coldplay inject massive doses of indifference into the format of the elegiac ballad. They excel at the subtle magniloquence of White Shadows and Talk. They survive the uneventful structures of Square One, The Hardest Part, Speed of Sound (the Clocks soundalike), and The Message. But, ultimately, too many songs are simply second-rate. Fix You was the hit from the album.

Viva La Vida (2008) contained their biggest hit yet, Viva La Vida (featuring a string quartet but no Verve-like melody to capitalize on the atmosphere). However, production by Brian Eno stole the show with the quasi-flamenco guitar instrumental overture Life in Technicolor and the quasi-instrumental Chinese Sleep Chant (with its hypnotic percusssive quality and Indian overtones). The ballads were wrapped in sonic magic but amounted to very little (yes, even Lovers In Japan with its techno beat and ringing guitars a` la U2, Strawberry Swing and Violet Hill). Lame melodies such as Cemeteries of London, pointless crescendoes such as Death and All His Friends and inconclusive metamorphoses such as in 42 sounded dishearteningly old-fashioned in the age of droning psychedelia, doom-metal, glitch-pop, etc.

The bombast of the previous album is still pervasive on Mylo Xyloto (2011), ostensibly a concept album set in the future, and produced again by his majesty Eno, particularly in Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall and Hurts Like Heaven, their best challenges to U2; but the hip-hop singalong Paradise, the ecstatic elegy Charlie Brown and the soul ballad Up in Flames (one of many) point in a different direction: some truly embarrassing supermarket muzak.

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