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Easy prey

June 19, 2008

There’s really no fun in mocking Coldplay, especially not for someone who used to enjoy their music. I may write off my love of Parachutes as a youthful indiscretion (I was still under 20), but I’ll still defend any number of their early singles. That said, their drubbing at the hands of the critics has been of their own making.
By X&Y, the songwriting formula was so set and predictable and the lyrics so generic that it seemed like Chris Martin was sleeping on the job.

With this in mind, I was dubious about their claimed reinvention at the hands of Brian Eno. Sure, Eno worked wonders with U2 back in the 80s, but he’d have a hard time making them any good these days. And do we have such short memories? Barely 6 years ago, Coldplay were “reinventing” themselves with some help from Echo & The Bunnymen frontman Ian McCulloch. Remember the “experimental” first track, “Politik”? And remember how A Rush of Blood to the Head only cemented Coldplay in the charts and properly defined their sound?

Then there came the grudging praise from hipster luminaries like Pitchfork and Popmatters and I wondered if maybe the hype was half right.

Now, having heard Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends, I’d call it about 10% right. I don’t want to talk about the lyrics or the mundane singalong choruses. If I could sentence a song to death for its crimes, “42” would be first against the wall. “Lost” would need a bloody good attorney. But occasionally the experimental flourishes work and I find myself enjoying it.

I mean, c’mon, the segue at the end of “Yes!” sounds like My Bloody Valentine. And “Viva La Vida” is a pretty good pop song. If you hate Coldplay, this won’t be enough for you, but for me it’s a minor blessing.

Coldplay – “Yes!”

Coldplay – “Viva La Vida”

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