#324: A Rush of Blood to the Head, Coldplay
I was on the phone with my brother the other day, discussing how hilarious Jack Antonoff’s name is, when he mentioned that Antonoff suffers from “the Coldplay Effect.” Well, I had never heard that before and was intrigued.
Google shows over five different working definitions for the Coldplay Effect, but mostly they amount to this: Coldplay is good, but they have mass-appeal, which makes them seem generic, and therefore bad. And there are so many other things working against Coldplay, right down to their chilly band name. Even Rolling Stone calls them “cuddly Radiohead,” which is admittedly hilarious but devastating.
They’re also not exactly hardcore. They’re not even really arena rock, even though they’re dressed up in their U2 costumes for “God Put a Smile Upon My Face.” The hardest song on this is, ironically, “A Whisper,” though that one has a pretty urgent guitar part that makes up for it.
But A Rush came out when I was in the second grade, so there’s something comforting about it to me. It reminds me of being on a school bus, even though I don’t think the radio ever played when I actually was on a school bus. I guess, in some ways, modern rock is fundamental to me. Let’s put it a different way: When 9/11 happened, I asked my mom to turn off the news because it was scaring me. Two days after 9/11, Chris Martin wrote “Politik,” a dark take on the philosophy of government.
No, they’re not hardcore, but they’re a little cleverer than hardcore rock groups are allowed to be. Just listen to all the styles of guitars they get to use. They do some slide guitar on “Daylight,” some country-style acoustic on “Green Eyes,” and even some lethargic, electro-Johnny-Cash-style-revenge guitar on “A Rush of Blood to the Head.” And while Martin’s piano is always moving and expressive, the circular piano riff on “Clocks” is mesmerizing and metaphorical and just breathtaking. (But I will admit that it’s got an underwhelming music video.)
Also, there’s something so earnest about Chris Martin’s voice. He sounds so sincere on “In My Place” over that heartbreaking guitar and synthesizer. When he goes Noooobody saaaaid it was eeeasy on “The Scientist?” Legendary. And both “Warning Sign” and “Amsterdam” are simply lovely in a gentle way.