EMI's shares fell on news of the delay to this album's release, such was the perceived importance of the third Coldplay release.
Sensibly, Chris Martin knew the importance of this third Coldplay album too, and took his time. Apparently, around sixty songs were written then whittled down. That's good, as it means X&Y
mostly avoids that 'second half is rubbish' thing that went down with the first two Coldplay albums.
Coldplay have finally pushed their sound forwards instead of sideways. There's acoustic strumalongs, a layering of instruments that aren't just bass, guitar, and piano, and carefully constructed songs. Martin stays with his own tried-and-trusted formula for lyrics consisting of simple but strong emotional words, then stringing them together in a way that's suitably vague, though hardly Bob Dylan.
"Square One" pushes all the right buttons, the opening electronic sequence revealing Martin had spent time listening to Kraftwerk. It's simple and he sings beautifully over the top, then the drums come in to thrilling effect when added to the fairly spooky electronics. Then the guitars - they sound epic in a 1980's U2 kind of way, as opposed to the guitar-work on previous Coldplay albums, which were usually overshadowed by piano. Plus the lyrics are actually about something! So "Square One" is easily one of the best songs on the album, and kicks things off in fine style. "What If" follows that, and maintains the standard - a typical Coldplay ballad, done well and retaining the epic quality with the guitars.
Highlights, highlights, highlights. Actually, a lowlight and a highlight arrive right together at the end of the album. "Twisted Logic" tries far too hard to be 'an epic album closer', the guitars reverting to the earlier Coldplay style. Actually, it sounds much like an average track from A Rush of Blood
. Far far better though is the acoustic almost folky singalong "Til Kingdom Come", the 'hidden' bonus track at the very end of the album. That one song is proof of the thought that's gone into this record.
by Reviewer: Adrian Denning
(blogging at Adrian's Album Reviews