June 08, 2005

First Impressions: X&Y

Ever looked through Amazon reviews and seen those song-by-song reviews? I hate that. So...here's mine! If you're interested in the new Coldplay album, I grabbed a pen and wrote down some quick thoughts as I was listening. I've saved you the trouble of deciphering my bad handwriting and reproduced my notes verbatim.

Square One
-Electronic sound without actually being electronic; drums and bass in sync
-Airy, sonically very open, atmospheric
-Crunchy guitars
-Closing bit w/acoustic guitars=brilliant

What If
-"Classic" Coldplay sound
-First impression - just a throwaway but must reconsider
-No good hook except for the bass groove throughout
-Beatles "Day In The Life" ending (strings)

White Shadow
-80s feel on opening; continued throughout
-Odd buried acoustic guitars (mainly right channel)
-Great synth ending segment
-Perfect for dance/club remix

Fix You
-Second song with long synth/string intro behind vox
-Aside from cliched lyrics, great, great song
-Great guitar-heavy segue from first half to second
-Strong-ass drums
-Everything they're capable of doing...smiling now
-Does more in 5 minutes than most are capable of in an album

Talk
-Another 80s new wave feel on intro with U2 Edge-like guitars
-Reminded of Big Country by Big Country
-Maybe too much of a polished throwback to really get into
-Inconsequential to album as a whole

X&Y
-Odd start - orchestral with great cellos
-Keys, drums, bass, synth all doing their own things (this is a good thing)
-Trippy Pink Floyd-like chorus almost
-Hybrid of Brit Pop and Progressive Rock
-Orchestral close=nice

Speed of Sound
-Clocks, basically
-Insanely catchy and upbeat
-Piano really hooks despite derivation from Clocks

A Message
-Simple acoustic guitar strummed opening; continues throughout
-Little boring but picks up intensity after guitar break and closing chorus
-Closes nicely similar to the way it began

Low
-Serious driven by hard beat and minor chords
-Hey, different adventurous percussion!
-Interesting turn four minutes in to close

The Hardest Part
-About face from previous Low
-Straight forward, simple sound
-Organ and faux slide guitar and piano fills lend to country feel
-Summer blue sky feel
-Nice but largely inconsequential were it not for great guitar work

Swallowed In The Sea
-Excellent lyrics ("song 100 miles long...")
-Straight-forward, mid-tempo brooding yet hopeful and almost anthematic in parts
-Just...excellent

Twisted Logic
-First minute its hard to see where the song is headed
-Not the traditional Coldplay closer like Everything's Not Lost or Amsterdam
-Cross between a little bit of Zeppelin's Kashmir sound and late Beatles

Bonus/Hidden
-Raw and simple yet compelling and genuine
-Name it, close the album with this officially.

Overall
-Album has more synth; they let Chris Martin have a field day
-Worried about slick production but not a problem
-Sound is really layered; great headphone album with all kinds of stuff buried
-Not sure where it falls into their catalog; time will tell.

Posted by Chris at June 8, 2005 07:16 AM
Comments

Thanks for the great overview. I was already going to pick it up, but your thoughts sealed it.

Posted by: Kris at June 8, 2005 07:38 AM

great review, I also picked it up yesterday and its in heavy rotation on my iPod :-)

Posted by: E at June 8, 2005 07:46 AM

Now this sounds like something i can really get into..i have their 1st album, which kicks ass! Thanks for the nice debriefing!!!

Posted by: Michelle at June 8, 2005 08:14 AM

Thinks Chris Martin needs a sound beating just because.

Posted by: Tek at June 8, 2005 08:38 AM

Once you listen to the album a couple of times it really does have the considerable value that the previous ones had... still not 100% sure its quite up to the level of awe which the last album had... (name completely eluding me at this moment) but... LOVE it still... so happy to see you're a fellow fan... My copy actually came with a bonus track, gotta love the Target store, of ANIMALS- :)

Posted by: Stephanie at June 8, 2005 08:59 AM

Coldplay have an unreleased track called "Moses" that also sounds exactly like "Clocks". Not that I mind, since "Clocks" IMHO is the best single of the decade. We've got a road trip to San Francisco this weekend, and will definitely be picking up the album for the drive.

Posted by: Jason at June 8, 2005 10:44 AM

you know, i was going to ask you what you thought of that album.

Posted by: jodi at June 8, 2005 10:53 AM

I stayed up late on sunday to watch the Live Leak on MTV, and I was very pleased with what they did. I loved the album so yesterday I was probably one of the first ones to run to the stores and get it. Luckily it came out yesterday in Mexico too, everywhere I guess..

Posted by: ava at June 8, 2005 11:38 AM

Thanks 4 the review. It's very good.

Posted by: ava at June 8, 2005 11:54 AM

i had considered picking this up but your review is vague! say something specific like, 'it sucks and no one should buy it as it may make them want to eat their own hair' or, 'this is best album EVER and i'm naming my daughter after it!' because i only deal in extremes. :)

Posted by: reb at June 8, 2005 12:55 PM

Excellent review! You obviously have a good ear. I will be acquiring this album soon.

P.S. I love crunchy guitars.

Posted by: Q at June 8, 2005 01:33 PM

I didn't think about how "Speed of Sound" sounds so much like Clocks until watching the Live Leak show on Sunday--but apparently Clocks was the last song they wrote for "A Rush of Blood to the Head" and "Speed of Sound" was the first song they wrote for "X&Y"...thus the similar sound :)

Posted by: E's fiance/Liz at June 8, 2005 01:35 PM

I just got this the day before yesterday...besides the ones in rotation on the radio, I also really enjoy #3 White Shadow. The funny thing is it defies my other CDs where for some strange reason I always love track 8 on the majority of my CDs and I would say that #8 is my least fave! Great Review, thanks!

Posted by: Kate at June 8, 2005 02:58 PM

i haven't heard that album yet but now i might just grab it off amazon.com! thanks!

Posted by: angel at June 8, 2005 03:38 PM

And my great (not) review of the album is 'Wow, excellent!' My children's....? 'Um, mom? Can we have the Bare Naked Ladies in again?'

Posted by: Amber at June 8, 2005 05:57 PM

Hey there,

I already told Michael we have to go see them when they come here in September (San Fran) even though I'll be 9 months pregnant. I saw them on the last tour in Baltimore and it was a fabulous show. I've been looking forward to this album for a long time and caught a sneak peak at a live performance on MTV2 the other day. Thanks for the review!

Posted by: Heather at June 8, 2005 07:26 PM

wow...were you bored today? LOL

Posted by: J at June 8, 2005 08:24 PM

curious to know what your thoughts are on their first 2 albums and how you'd rate this one in comparison!

Posted by: Priscilla at June 8, 2005 09:54 PM

Re: "Speed Of Sound"

First time I heard it I thought immediately of "Clocks". They both have the same structure, and probably a good choice for the lead single.

Some people just can't stand Coldplay because they are deemed "safe" - hell, it's certainly a fresh breath of air compared to all the rock that has saturated the airwaves the past few years.

Posted by: sledge at June 8, 2005 10:19 PM

I need a firm up or down too. Buy or not buy? Keep in mind that I LOVE COLD RUSH OF BLOOD TO THE HEAD and that if this doesn't live up to it, I'd rather not buy it.

Posted by: jen at June 8, 2005 10:21 PM

I love Coldplay, I don't have the new CD though. Thanks for the review!

Posted by: Indigo at June 8, 2005 11:11 PM

I hadn't planned on buying this cd,... but I'm convinced I want it.

Thanks, also for your comment today, I appreciate it.

Posted by: Heather at June 8, 2005 11:23 PM

Okay, I skipped over reading this because I don't want to color my first listen with criticism - but I came to confess that the ringtone for my shiny new (and long needed) cellphone? is Speed of Sound. I've been making people call me for no other reason than just to get the thrill of listening to it. I have a bit of a Coldplay crush.

Posted by: samantha at June 8, 2005 11:33 PM

I didn't need your review to know I'd love it...already had it and had been listening to it.

Excellent job, though.....pretty spot-on. Now I have to go re-read all your old cd reviews since I might need to be buying half the shit you recommend. :)

Posted by: Junkie at June 9, 2005 09:05 AM

Great review! I'm relying on you instead of People magazine next time. :) For me, Low and Fix You are the best songs, I want more like Low.

Posted by: Carla at June 9, 2005 10:22 AM

You make me want to go out and buy that CD...and I'm not even a Coldplay fan, except for the song "Clocks." I may go buy this CD!

Posted by: Stephanie at June 9, 2005 09:52 PM

Is it just me or is there a definite U2 groove going on here?

Posted by: zeno at June 10, 2005 11:03 AM