You know, the first few times I listened to Coldplay‘s third album, I wasn’t all that impressed. My initial impression was of an overall wash of sound with very little in the way of actual songs. But it was a pleasant enough sound, so I left it on repeat play for my walks to and from work, and slowly it began to grow on me. And yes, there are some songs in there.
Chris Martin’s lyrics are often a little on the oblique side – it’s not at all obvious what, if anything, the songs are “about”. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – each listener can take the words to mean whatever they want to. Their previous album, A Rush of Blood to the Head did very well, partly thanks to the use of Clocks in more TV shows, trailers and who knows what else than almost any other song I can think of in recent years. Still, it was a rather good album, and there are a couple of songs on it that got into my head and stayed there. Is the follow-up going to do the same? Probably.
So, taking a few tracks in no particular order:
- Speed of Sound – this was the first single to be released, and it’s pretty much what you’d expect from Coldplay. Nice to listen to, hooks that worm their way into your brain and some odd imagery:
And birds go flying at the speed of sound
To show how it all began
Birds came flying from the underground
If you could see it then you’d understand
I’m trying not to visualise pigeons in Oxford Circus station. With minimal success.
- White Shadows – the first track to really grab me. Certainly the first one where the actual song started getting through to me. A really catchy bit:
Maybe you’ll get what you wanted
Maybe you’ll stumble upon it
Everything you ever wanted
In a permanent state
- Talk – oooh, nice guitar hook in this one. One of those snippets that goes round and round in my head, and which will probably end up being used in numerous TV programmes.
- ‘Til Kingdom Come – the “hidden” track at the end. Not all that hidden, really, but it’s not listed on the CD packaging. Compared with the carefully crafted instrumentation and production of the rest of the album, this is a much simpler affair – acoustic guitar and Chris’s voice for the most part. And it’s a proper bloody song! I don’t think anyone would accuse Coldplay of excessive cheeriness, but this is a particularly sad-sounding song.
For you I’d wait
‘Til kingdom come
Until my day
My day is done
And say you’ll come
And set me free
Just say you’ll wait
You’ll wait for me
X&Y is a lot better than it seemed to me on first listening. Coldplay are now a very big band indeed, and this can only make them bigger.