Saturday, November 24, 2007

Coldplaying Coldplay

Since Coldplay is close to finishing up its new album, produced by Brian Eno, I decided to reevaluate the band’s third album, “X&Y,” during a recent car trip. It’s still a bloated affair: overly long and Hugh Padgham-like production. The band seemed unsure of how to evolve the way that they'd managed to do during the lunar-stride leap from "Parachutes" to "Rush of Blood to the Head." Musically, "X&Y" finds Coldplay arcing in a creative cul de sac with no choice but to circle back on familiar-sounding constructions and motifs. The dreadful cover looks like a screen grab of a Tetris game that's all but over.

But once I’d brushed aside poor-to-middling songs such as “The Hardest Part” and “Swallowed by the Sea,” I was pleased to reacquaint myself with “Talk” and “Square One.” Moreover, I can confidently declare “Low” – with its euphoric climax swooping in, cavalry-like, at the last minute – to be the greatest achievement of the band’s young career. A concert highlight, too. But the real rediscovery for me was “Twisted Logic,” the final song (if you don't include the faux Cash country tune, "Til Kingdom Come," tacked on as a hidden track). Here, Johnny Buckland's guitar becomes jaggedly majestic, taking on all comers, going out like Tony Montana in a six-string firestorm.

The best moments of "X&Y" remind me why I fell for this band 7 years ago and I trust that Eno will do for them what he did for U2 following that group's similar "Rattle and Hum" debacle. Promisingly, the band states that this next album will be a disciplined 42 minutes and, they declare, "As you'd expect with Brian Eno, there's experimentation and exploration. But the music still has integrity. It's real and honest. There's no posturing or bombast."

P.S. Photo of Coldplay in Barcelona courtesy of Fibrcool over at Flickr's Creative Commons area.

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