Monday, August 23, 2010

Albums2010 #24: A Rush Of Blood To The Head

I didn't know what to think about Coldplay when I first heard them. In general, I liked them. I more than liked them, I approved of them. It was that point late in high school when teeny boppers like N'Sync and Britney started growing up and losing their mass market shiny, crap commercial appeal and music started become real again. A season of Chris Martin staring moodily at the camera and moaning about how something, whatever it was, was all yellow. But they were odd. And I didn't know how to feel about them and then, they released this album and suddenly, amazingly, they were awesome. Really and truly awesome.

This album represents a high point in Coldplay's ongoing career that probably won't be matched again. This is their 'Highway 61 Revisited' their 'Sergeant Pepper' and it's damn good, dreamy, ethereal and downright exquisite from start to finish. From 'Politik' to 'In My Place' 'Clocks' 'Daylight' and 'The Scientist' the songs ranging from the melancholy to the dreamy this entire album just works and I love it.

This may seem like something of a weird tangent, but I remember the first time I read Ramesh Menon's excellent translation of The Ramayana, I was listening to this album and I was struck how the beauty and dreaminess of the music fit in so perfectly with Menon's prose and carefully constructed dreamscapes of long-ago India. I don't know whether there was something in the water that day, but I will always associate this album with that particular piece of writing.

What else about Coldplay? Well they seemed to be at the forefront of this kind of weird, ethereal wave of bands that came out of Britain that included the likes of Keane and a few others that escape me right now, which probably means it was just Coldplay and Keane in that bunch. They were new, they were unusual and while no one can accuse them of being a hard-core rock band, they made a good album with this one.

The 'you know how I know your gay' riff from '40 Year Old Virgin' aside, if you feel the need to dip your feet in the pond of Coldplay, start with this album. It doesn't disappoint and it'll give you a good feel for their music. OK, they rock harder on a few more albums, but if you want heavy metal, don't come lookin' here.

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