Posts Tagged ‘A Rush of Blood to the Head’

If you’ve been following my thoughts for long enough, you already know how I feel about Coldplay (click here if you need a refresher.) Last month they once again thrust themselves into the spotlight with their latest release, Ghost Stories, and are now forced to stand trial.

In their first two albums – Parachutes and A Rush of Blood to the Head – what set Coldplay apart from most other bands was their ability to emote with abundant intensity, using both their lyrics and music. It was an unshakeable draw into their world. You could just feel that constant knot in your stomach, hear that breaking heart, and succumb to whatever mood they portrayed. At that time, not many bands were doing this well. Their third album X&Y followed suit, and pushed them front and center.

But somehow with their exponential rise to fame, the quality of their music suffered. With their next consecutive albums – Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends and Mylo Xyloto – they were guilty of releasing tracks of no substance, of simplistic lyrics, of little meaning. They were guilty of sinking to pedestrian metaphors, nowhere near the genius of their previous works. This was amateur work from a pro band. It wasn’t the Coldplay I was used to, it wasn’t the Coldplay I fell for, so I distanced myself.

 I was hesitant to even attempt to survive their newest album, but hanging on to the hope that the original Coldplay may return, I gave it a whirl. What I heard was pleasantly surprising. It was entirely different, not even close to anything Coldplay’s ever done. I listened to it over and over again trying to pinpoint exactly what was going on. They seemed to be experimenting with a new sound, a new direction. It was reminiscent of when U2 went in the a more electronic direction with 1997’s Pop album. I had to commend Coldplay for stepping out of the comfort of their mainstream box.

Ghost Stories has an ethereal quality to it. It seems to focus a lot more heavily on the music and sounds themselves, as opposed to the lyrics. It would be just as effective without the words, because the music is strong enough to transport you. Old school Coldplay was an emotional experience; mainstream Coldplay was a non-experience; this new Coldplay is an out-of-body experience, like it’s elevating your soul. It slowly seeps into your body and mind, until you end up in an imaginary world with that cute DJ you met at the club last week or until you realize you missed your exit on the highway.

It’s like what they used to be able to elicit with their lyrics alone, they’ve managed to do with their music. Is it a case of trying to be different to stay relevant, or simply an honest move in a new direction? Hard to say. There’s a lot of reference to space, time, the unknown, even the supernatural. They’re toying with abstract themes, intangible for the listener, leaving a sense of intrigue, because it’s completely open to interpretation.

It’s hard to judge this Coldplay album, because it isn’t a Coldplay album. It’s like a brand new band, who put out a solid, fantastic, musical experience. I hope this isn’t a one-off, a phase Coldplay’s going through, before they return to lazy music. I hope this is their new direction, and that they continue to evolve. So for now, Coldplay is innocent. Let’s hope they’re not proven guilty.

 

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There’s nothing like hearing an album that ends up staying with you forever for the first time. It satisfies all your senses and makes you feel every emotion possible on the first try; an intense connection without even trying and you’re blown away. Almost like a great first date. But then there’s the downside: the anticipation of the next time. Will it be the same experience or was it just beginner’s luck? What happens when things don’t live up to your expectations: do you turn your back and walk away or do you hold out a little longer? When is enough enough?                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Parachutes was the debut album released by Coldplay in 2000 and when I first heard it, it was like time stopped. Every sound, every lyric and every instrument was beautiful; no feeling left untouched, no sentiment left unused. It wasn’t just a couple of tracks here and there, it was the entire album, front to back. They had me at hello. Critics raved about it, but it was their 2002 follow up, A Rush of Blood to the Head, that brought them out of their shell and into the spotlight. Only solidifying the attachment between us even more.

Coldplay and I were getting serious. I knew it wasn’t just a flirtation because the amount of time we had invested in each other meant we were going steady. No one-hit wonder territory, we were two solid albums in, we were committed. As a result it was impossible not to expect the same out of their third release, 2005’s X and Y. However, we all know the minute we start to expect things, disappointment is inevitable. It wasn’t a terrible album, but it definitely wasn’t great. They were starting to become more and more popular by the minute which seemed to have affected the quality of their music. I could tell they were distracted, they felt distant and even “Fix You” couldn’t fix us.

However, unwilling to give up on them so quickly, I accepted this slip up and was hoping their next album would blow me away once again, and get us back on track. But 2008’s Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends did the exact opposite. I thought they were better than that, nay I knew they were, but they didn’t seem to care anymore. They were at the peak of their stardom – at this point anyone who was anyone had heard of them, seen them live and become a fan. They weren’t the same anymore, we didn’t get each other like we used to and the connection was fading. My faith in them started to waiver and I couldn’t bring myself to even buy the album because there was no point.

I struggled with what to do next, with the internal conflict that ensued: how do you deal with such colossal disappointment? Do you give up entirely? Do you cut them off, or stick around and support them until they rediscover themselves? By the time 2011’s Mylo Xyloto came out, I already knew it was over. Releasing that album was their version of cheating on me with a younger, hotter, blonder groupie. They sold out and decided to appeal to the masses, instead of writing for those that really understood them. How else do you explain going from epic songs like “The Scientist” and “Trouble” to basic ones like “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall”?

My relationship with Coldplay wasn’t a love/lust at first sight/listen. It wasn’t an obsession. It was an admiration for their musicianship. Contrary to what my mom may think, they weren’t just musicians, they were friends, confidants and inspirations. Nothing in our relationship was as honest and real as that first date. But it was so monumental that even though they have made mistakes and let me down since, I stuck around because I knew they had it in them. Unfortunately, they stopped feeling the same way. All I can do now is keep my fingers crossed and believe that one day they’ll find their way back to who they once were and remember what we once had. Until then, all that’s left is a bunch of broken records.