Thursday, August 6, 2009
Dear Lord, please forgive me…
I’m a Coldplay fan.
Not really, but yeah, really. Basically, Coldplay is one of those bands that I listen to but I don’t really like. Sorta like the Beatles but for different reasons. The reason I listen to Coldplay is that, like any guilty pleasure, they make me feel good…well, when they’re on. See that’s the thing with Coldplay, or a thing, their songs are either hit or miss. There’s no such thing as an “ok” Coldplay song -- they either knock it dead on or it’s the most boring 3 minutes and 42 seconds of tedious drivel you’d ever (not) want to hear.
I still remember when these guys “hit the scene” so to speak, when “alternative” music was sorta having a resurgence in the late 90s thanks to Radiohead’s OK Computer (insert eye roll here…shut up, Josh) and well, there were these bands out there who literally took that sound and made a living off of it…and Coldplay was the one that caught on and then took off.
And really, Yellow is a super great song, and so is the first half of the Parachutes album. Then I get bored. And even though they were a bit of a hipster act, it was still cool to like them ‘cos they were universally aware, outspoken about human rights, animal rights, earth rights, etc, donating to various causes and being activists without being overly preachy. And part of this is because these boys aren’t really the cocky, gunslinger rock star types…they’re sorta geeky and approachable. Maybe not They Might Be Giants or Ween geeky, but who would want to be?
I don’t know what the heck I’m talking about.
Anyway, next came A Rush of Blood to the Head and they were no longer a hipster band ‘cos they were getting blasted from stereos in everything from Corvettes to minivans all around town. And that’s the thing about Coldplay…they’re safe for the entire family. Buncha wussy saps. But again, Clocks is a good song, and The Scientist makes me tear up sometimes, and Green Eyes is one of those love-pop ditties you wish you’d written for that special someone, and who cares that they played the Grammies and were superstars, ‘cos they were still good guys...even though Chris Martin needed to get from behind that piano...Elton John show-pony.
And so I embraced my inner Coldplay fandom and read articles on the upcoming third album and all the problems they were having with it and blah, blah, but when X&Y came out I was like…WTF IS THIS SHIZ??? It may as well have been a pulse drone, ‘cos every song sounded the same in this seamless flow of non stop bo-ring. Talk about a pattern, a formula -- at least 80% of the songs start off with a keyboard intro and then "build" (both musically and emotionally) at such a predictable momentum that you're about ready to smash your CD player for offending your sense of hearing. So for me Coldplay basically nosedived from hit and miss to just miss (except for when they hit the ground, BOOM)…with the exception of Talk, which has a fantastically beautiful melody…because it’s a direct lift from Kraftwerk’s Computer Love…which they acknowledge.
So when Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends was announced and getting hype and they were on some stupid cell phone commercial I was like, “I’m so done I never even got started.” (Er…) And then I found out that Brian Eno produced the album.... "FRICK! Now I’ve at least got to hear it," I thought. I mean Eno can make a monkey banging a coconut on a rock sound interesting, so maybe he can make Coldplay sound tolerable.
Ok, it’s better than that. I mean this is THE Coldplay album for me. Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends is ridiculously good, fantastic even. I’m thinking it’s probably the album X&Y should/could have been if they weren’t trying to maintain/recreate the success of Rush of Blood. I mean it sounds like Coldplay, it feels like Coldplay, but it takes you to places far beyond the mushy, whiney, Alan Alda sensitive wankerness that plagued even some of the good songs on the first two albums. Sure, there’s some sentiment there, but it’s masked in obscurity, and the music is often so angular and non-pop, so NOT for the radio, so NOT of this time, so something that could have/should have come out in or around 1982, that it could have/should have been career suicide, but (thankfully?) wasn’t. Really, like the Delacroix painting on the cover, it’s a true work of art.
And yet even after pouring such adulation upon this album, I still can’t bring myself to really be a Coldpaly fan. But I’m still gonna listen to them without shame. I’m at an age now where I don’t care what more than about 2 or 3 people think any more, and likely you’re not one of them, so if I can come to terms with liking a multi-platinum selling, arena playing, big movie star marrying bunch of tadgers…so can you.
And by the way, if you can, get the version of the album with the Prospekt’s March E.P. as a bonus disc -- it’s well worth the extra couple of bucks.