erasing clouds

Coldplay, Parachutes (EMD/Capitol)

reviewed by Erin Hucke

I thought they were just the latest Brit-pop sensation. The latest thing being promoted as "the best thing to come out of England since Radiohead." And whenever music critics attach the name "Radiohead" to new bands, I tend to stay away from them. Lazy critics use the idea that the band is "just like Radiohead" to promote every slightly depressive, slightly edgy, up-and-coming rock band. So I blindly shoved the name "Coldplay" into the "cheap imitation" file of my memory.

But after hearing the hit European single "Yellow" a few times, I couldn't shake off the infectious beauty of it. The music was starting to melt my resistance towards the band.

"Look at the stars. Look how they shine for you." OK so maybe the lyrics sound a bit "rock cliche" when you separate them from the music. But it was captivating. Trust me.

So I gave in. Yet, even as I purchased the band's debut album Parachutes, I saw a promotional sticker on the front of it with a review quote proclaiming that Coldplay were the "successors of Radiohead and The Verve." Did I really want to go against my instinct? "Eh," I assured myself, "what do music journalists know anyway?"

I guess they know some things (like how good this CD really is), but promotion to independent thinkers isn't one of them. Coldplay are certainly not the one-trick zebra I thought them to be.

Parachutes makes obvious musical allusions to artists like Jeff Buckley and Catherine Wheel, as well as early Radiohead and late Verve.

You can feel the late Buckley's falsetto in the high-pitched, wailing refrain of "Shiver." Even the verses sound eerily like him. Did the spirit of Jeff Buckley enter the body of lead singer Chris Martin allowing him to sing like this? It really makes you wonder.

On other songs, like "Everything's Not Lost," you can hear the richness of the sultry voice of Rob Dickinson from Catherine Wheel. You hear meandering guitars and floating electronics of The Verve in "High Speed." And so much of Radiohead's 1995 album The Bends shines through the entire album.

It saddens me to think I might be pinning Coldplay down as simple copycats or imitators in this review. They aren't. Instead, it's like the band took the best elements of delicate (British) rock music from the last five years and combined them into a gentle, melancholy soup.

I suppose the moral of my story is that you can't trust music reviews. Hmm...I suppose that isn't a very appropriate way to end a music review, expecting you to give Coldplay a listen. So the second moral of my story is to take it upon yourself to forget what I say exactly, but remember the recommendation and find the beauty of Coldplay on your own.

Issue 4, January 2001 | next article

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