- reviewed by Jennifer
This year the music press can’t seem to get enough of calling every
new band that comes along “the new Radiohead” or “Buckley-esque”
simply because the singers possess voices not unlike a Thom Yorke/Jeff
Buckley hybrid. It seems to me like lazy journalism. One has to
look at the music being played and the lyrics of the songs, not
just whether the singer has the uncanny ability to warble on incoherently.
London-based Coldplay is yet another of those bands lumped under
the “New Radiohead/Buckley Rock” label. Additionally, they’ve been
called “The New Travis” in the British press, since with a similar
“mellow acoustic rock” sound captured in mega-hit Yellow, they seemed
destined for the same success Travis found in 1999. A few months
ago, Parachutes debuted at #1 in the UK album charts, following
Yellow’s success. Having conquered Britain, Coldplay are now seeking
the rest of the world.
As a fan of the bands that Coldplay are compared to (and influenced
by), I was of course curious. After all the fuss and hype, I gave
Parachutes a listen. And I started laughing. Singer Chris Martin’s
voice threw me far from expectations. Jeff? Thom? Fran from Travis?
Nope. Try Nick Drake. A bit on the deeper side, it’s only in the
odd howl or bit of falsetto that he strikes one as a distant cousin
to Jeff Buckley. As for the music, it may initially appeal more
to those who enjoy lighthearted Travis rather than angst-filled
Radiohead, but there’s a spacey, dreamy vibe that harkens early
Verve in many of the songs. In opener Don’t Panic, Martin’s voice
is immediately striking, singing “We live in a beautiful woooooooorld”
in a drawn-out way, more Richard Ashcroft than Liam Gallagher as
he bends and shapes words to fit melodies.
Many of the songs have fairly straightforward relationship themes
we’ve heard time and again. In Shiver, Chris longs after a girl
who doesn’t notice him: “So I look in your direction, but you pay
me no attention…I know you won’t listen to me ’cause you say you
see straight through me.” Later in Trouble, Chris is filled with
painful regret again, yet this time he’s not been unnoticed: “I
never meant to cause you trouble, I never meant to do you wrong.”
One of the highlights is the delicate Spies, which grabs hold of
the heart and doesn’t let go until you’ve journeyed up to the stars
and back down again. The following Sparks, a gentle love ballad,
calms the soul as a cup of tea until the catchy Yellow, actually
one of the weaker tracks, perks things up yet again. High Speed
is another of the album’s space rock gems, and makes one wonder
how a band so young (all are in their early twenties) can sound
so accomplished with this, their debut album. They aren’t Radiohead
by a long shot, but then, who is? And who cares? Coldplay stand
solidly on their own despite their obvious influences, which fall
away after several listens to Parachutes convince you that Coldplay
can only get better as they mature.
Hawker welcomes your comments on this review.