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Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Casual Critic — Cold Play's X&Y

Having seen their album, X&Y, on the Billboard charts for a while, I figured it was time to test myself as a critic and give Cold Play — a band I'd never heard of before — a listen. A quick Google told me they are one of the hottest bands in the world, and this was their much-anticipated third album.

The first song I heard was a precursor of the biggest problem I had with the album — the lyrics were nice, but "unearned." It's filled with lines like "I never felt this way before," but we never know why he's just so damn emotional. Lines like this clutter the album, and singer Chris Martin has a dramatic quality that, given these lyrics, comes off like some kid immitating a grizzled rock star.

"A Message" offers words like: "Your heavy heart / is made of stone / and it's so hard to see clearly / you don't have to be on your own." I'm not sure what the hell this means, and the acoustic guitar and drama-ridden voice make me really not care. I was a senior in high school when the song that went ". . . what would you say / if I took those words a way . . . " was cool, and this felt like a weak, way too late version of it.

“White Shadows,” “Speed of Sound,” and “Square One,” are the best X&Y offers, along with “Fix You” as the one song with lyrics that make sense. The others don't reach that lofty standard, but they at least don't depress the hell out of you. “What If” is close to these, but the words just go no where.

Look, I'm not a snob about song lyrics, but gimme something! “The Hardest Part” never explains anything. Like the many of the others — including “Talk,” “Low,” and “X&Y” — it just mashes together a bunch of clichés. “Twisted Logic” and “Swallowed in the Sea” end up as loud songs with the same problems.

There is a U2 quality in the sound of a couple songs, but I probably shouldn't sully Bono and the boys by mentioning it. Even if you're looking for something new, leave this for the true fan of Cold Play.

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