The Album List: #70 Coldplay “A Rush of Blood To the Head”


I. Love. Coldplay.

I know it’s “cool” to hate Chris Martin, the likable, talented do-gooder with the pretty movie star wife and the ridiculously named children. He writes these middle of the road pop songs with pianos and orchestras, and they aren’t massively guitar driven, and the lyrics are pretentious, and-

Shut it.

I. Love. Coldplay.

I particularly love love love LOVE this record.

I fell in love with this record immediately after hearing it for the very first time. Very rarely does that happen- maybe one album per year, two at the most. When one’s life is immersed in music, you tend to notice that a lot of it is very same-ish sounding, that practically every song sounds like something from Revolver, and then you sit there and listen to it again. And again. And again. This pattern goes one for at least a few days until you either want to break the CD over someone’s head, or your gut tells you that there is something fantastic here. I listen to about a hundred records that are made in the year. I listen to about another hundred that have sat on a shelf, or picked up on a lark.  I’m one person. I have a life. Not really.

Some of the records on this list are what I call slow burners, albums that take their time to get under your skin. Others are albums I loved when I was younger, and hold fond memories of despite the music not aging well. Then there are albums like this one, ones that get constant play every year. It’s beauty is underrated and it’s pop majesty is neglected.

Coldplay, indeed, doesn’t suck, not musically. Chris Martin isn’t a great pianist, but he’s certainly a good one. There is a ferocity in the album opener, “Politik”, a driven piano ballad with a barely contained rage. Then all off a sudden, the piano begins to lightly sing over haunting strings, and Martin’s expressive lilt turns the song from fierce anthem to gentle, soaring hymn.  The falsetto is so beautiful. It’s not fair.

There is the title track, where underrated guitar hero Jon Buckland adds majestic touches overtop Martin’s acoustic guitar base. An understated gem, it deserves a listen now.

Or how about the moody and atmospheric “Amsterdam”, as lovely and wistful and Jacques Brel’s similarly named track is bawdy and over the top. How can anyone hate this song?

Or… or, how about the messy, folky “Green Eyes”, which just thumps along, bare and simple to start, and picks up steam and instrumentation, and all while some lovely but quiet harmonies punctuate the acoustic gentleness.

And these are albums tracks. The four singles released from this album are among the strongest four singles from one album I have ever heard. Whether its first single “In My Place”, a song with chiming electric guitars deceptively hiding the regret of the lyrics, or the amazing piano line that is the musical centre of “Clocks”, or the sheer beauty and perfection of “The Scientist, the singles are achingly beautiful. Sometimes that’s all one needs to fall in love with a record.

For me “The Scientist”  is an perfect song, a mournful look at a relationship falling apart against the wishes of our narrator. It’s simply almost to lovely to bear. When I hear it, I tend to want to run to a piano and try to out do Martin’s masterpiece. He has nothing to worry about ever.

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