Coldplay - A Rush Of Blood To The Head

After the single-smash that was Yellow, the Alan McGhee branded “Bed-wetting” backlash that soon followed and the debut Grammy and Brit awards achieved, it seemed that Coldplay had gone through a career’s worth of exhaustion after only their first album Parachutes.

Initial favourable comparisons threw the band amongst the Jeff Buckley / Radiohead mould, whilst cynics argued that the world didn’t need another Travis. It is upon listening to A Rush Of Blood To The Head, Coldplay’s sophomore album, that it quickly transpires that the band have somehow carved out their own niche amongst the Indie genre.

Listening to the singles at first glance, such as the feel-good In My Place or the tender ballad The Scientist, it is clear that the band’s critics have enough to argue that the Coldplay sound is already by-the-numbers. The songwriting talent is evident from the outset, even if the opening track Politik is more of a live favourite as opposed to a killer album cut. It is only by the third number, the European-only released single God Put A Smile Upon My Face, that events become interesting, purely because a new rockier direction is suggested by the band.

The popular summer anthem Clocks is easily Coldplay’s most formulaic effort, but that’s just a good argument for the band to only play to their already proven strengths. It’s certainly punchier than the naïve innocence of Parachute’s singles, and it leads nicely into Daylight, a track not dissimilar to Doves’ Catch The Sun in its major-seventh chorus, backed by a captivating drum track by Will Champion and a pulsating bass line by Guy Berryman. If the band’s growing maturity has been proven by this second album, it’s thanks mostly to Champion and Berryman, who have managed to overturn their almost invisible presence on the first album and become fully-fledged equal band-members.

Green Eyes is a dull acoustic filler, and A Warning Sign plods along, albeit very nicely. A Whisper is a moody, dark and rocking choice for the album, and suggests a new line of confidence for the band considering they left the brilliant and raw One I Love to the confines of a B-side. A Whisper aggressively challenges any claims that the band can be too frail at times, and coupled with their stage performances, evokes comparisons with an eighties U2.

The title track is another slow burner that generally fails to gather much excitement, but the album is redeemed beautifully by the closing number Amsterdam. It’s this final track that we can genuinely appreciate the depths of lead singer Chris Martin’s voice, with the chorus line of “Time Is On My Side” seeming sincerely heartfelt. Lyrically, the band’s focus has always been deliberately ambiguous, which could explain why they enjoy much success. It almost doesn’t matter about the content of the songs themselves, as this album should hopefully provide a middle-ground between the acoustic tenderness of the first album and the potential edginess of a third album.

Far more piano-based than Parachutes, A Rush Of Blood To The Head is a powerful brand of mainstream quality that many will savour. If however, you are lucky enough to sample some of the band’s many B-sides, you’ll notice that the gutsier material has been overlooked for safer songs. Coldplay possess phenomenal talent, but they still can’t be classed as risk-takers. Even so, this is a strong contender for album of 2002, and Martin, Buckland, Berryman and Champion deserve to find themselves in one of the world’s best bands.

Overall

8

out of 10
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