Tuesday, March 15, 2016

CD Odyssey Disc 845: Coldplay

There are a few bands I just love to hate. Nickelback, Duran Duran, most of what nu country has to offer and…this band.

Disc 845 is….A Rush of Blood to the Head
Artist: Coldplay

Year of Release: 2002

What’s up with the Cover? I can only assume the rush of blood to this man’s head was so severe that it blew his skull off. Either that or he heard this album and decided to end it all with a skill saw. That makes more sense, given the clean cut-line.

How I Came To Know It: This album belongs to Sheila, not me. However, the CD Odyssey rules are not kind. As Kyle Reese might say, they do not know pity or remorse. They can’t be reasoned with and they can’t be bargained with and they absolutely will not stop – ever – until I’ve listened to all the albums in the collection. Sadly, that includes this album.

How It Stacks Up:  This is the only Coldplay album in the collection, so there is nothing for it to stack up against. Hallelujah.

Ratings: 2 stars

My dislike of the band Coldplay is probably unfair, given how little I know about their music. That’s why listening to “A Rush of Blood to the Head” was so satisfying; after an honest and careful listen it confirmed I don’t like them.

There is something about Coldplay that irks me. How a band that is so smug with its own self-importance can make such boring and ordinary music is beyond me, yet they somehow manage it.

“A Rush of Blood to the Head” starts off with three songs that explore the different ways a piano key can be whacked incessantly. “Politik” bangs away in this vein for a few bars, followed by a semi-respite where it is banged some more, only softer. It’s the musical equivalent of being water-boarded, where every now and then you are given a break so the horror can stay fresh.

In My Place” plays a few different notes that bounce around like Han Solo’s laser in the trash compactor: dangerous, confined and entirely unhelpful. It felt a bit like a bad Killers song. I should note that I don’t like the Killers much either.

The trio is rounded off with “God Put a Smile Upon Your Face” which combines the two effects, a clanging note and a crowded production all in one place, occasionally breaking it down with a guitar strum before they push your head under again.

Then, miraculously, things improve a bit. The album’s two hits “The Scientist” and “Clocks” appear. These songs are actually…OK. They aren’t great, but unlike the album’s first quarter, they are at least listenable.

 In fact, “The Scientist” is pretty good. It is a well-constructed song where the verse and the chorus play prettily off one another. I’ll never be a fan of Chris Martin’s voice, which I feel is more about him showing off his falsetto than it is about serving the song, but he keeps it real on “The Scientist” so I’ll give credit (grudgingly) where it is due.

Clocks” is OK as well, although that piano riff that starts it off has been so overplayed all I can think about is TV advertisements for cars or cell phones. “Clocks” also shows what it is like when Coldplay strips out some of the excess production from their songs. It transforms them from awful to competent.

The back half of the album is a bit better than the front half. On “Green Eyes” Chris Martin reminded me of Gavin Gardiner, lead singer of Canadian folk band, “The Wooden Sky.” I prefer Gardiner’s voice but it was nice to have Coldplay reminding me of something pleasant. It didn’t happen often while listening to this record.

Unfortunately, it is followed by another pounding clunker in “Warning Sign.” “Warning Sign” had me looking at it at least twice wondering if it was going to be over soon. I did that a lot on this record, which has many songs that are over five minutes long but are musically spent after about two. The warning sign here should have read “Warning: Song Way Too Long.”

My most reviled Coldplay song, “Yellow” is not on this album, which was a small blessing. However there was enough wrong with “A Rush of Blood to the Head” to make me think of the colour yellow, mostly in terms of how it looks in snow.

Best tracks:  The Scientist, Green Eyes

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