A Rush Of Blood To The Head


Capitol Records, 2002


REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


Ah, Coldplay.

Dramatically-flourishing, melodically-sparkling, dourly-British Coldplay.

Brooding, plaintive, are-we-really-as-good-as-they-say-well-all-right-then-I-suppose-if-you-insist Coldplay.

Weighty, philosophical, desperately serious -- except when dating Gwyneth Paltrow, though maybe even still then* -- Coldplay. (*Of course she isn't dating the whole band. It's a figure of frigging speech.)

I was prepared -- no, anxious -- to be impressed by this album. Many worshipful fan reviews of this disc and its 2000 predecessor Parachutes had come to my attention. Many an expectation had been raised by the hoopla, as well as by the rippling melodicism and enticing urgency of the hit single "Clocks" (a simply fabulous tune, no qualifiers necessary). And no wonder; I loved U2 back when the goal of their music was to change the world instead of just their chart position, and I still pretty predictably go apesh*t when ol' Bruce-from-New-Joisey wrinkles his brow, brandishes his guitar and belts out a lyric as if -- wow -- he really means it. That's what Coldplay sounded like to me, heard only through the voices of their fans -- the kind of band that makes music that's both real, and entertaining.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

I strained to hear that magic over several weeks of listening sessions. A number of them were quite enjoyable as the songs on this disc gradually revealed themselves before my ears, uncovering a nice little turn of phrase here, a bewitching melody there. Special compliments are due to "God Put A Smile Upon Your Face," where the band actually sounds a bit rock and roll for a few minutes, building up a healthy sweat behind an enigmatic lyric that made itself comfortable inside my imagination.


Normally, this would be the part where I rattle off quick observations on a number of other tracks. Problem is, I can't. Don't remember any of 'em. Well, no, I do remember the bombastic-to-the-point-of-utter-silliness "Politik," which quickly earned an appearance from my wife's favorite blunt instrument, the scorn-drenched "What *is* this?" But as for the rest, after a good twenty listens this album has left me with as much substance to sift through as bottled water poured through a strainer.

The one impression that does stick with me is a truly remarkable amount of repetition. The Coldplay modus operandi seems to be to select a chord progression of modest merit, match it to an inscrutable lyric and repeat it obsessively until it either assumes an air of false profundity or drives the listener loony (or both). Song after song teases, building and layering and building some more without ever shifting gears or reaching any kind of coherent musical conclusion. It's as if they came up with seven or eight decent ideas and then just quit and said "Eh. Those'll do."

With this album, Coldplay aspires to grandeur, but too often achieves only tedium. Real is good -- real boring, isn't.

Rating: C-

User Rating: C



© 2003 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol Records, and is used for informational purposes only.