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Coldplay - X & Y
Label: Capitol Records
Release: 2005

X1. Square One
X2. What If
X3. White Shadows
X4. Fix You
X5. Talk
X6. X&Y

Y1. Speed of Sound
Y2. A Message
Y3. Low
Y4. The Hardest Part
Y5. Swallowed in the Sea
Y6. Twisted Logic
'Til Kingdom Come
X & Y - Coldplay
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Coldplay's third studio album is the best one yet - no other way to put it. Where "Parachutes" and "A Rush of Blood to the Head" faltered, "X&Y" conquers. The album, highlighted by songs such as "Square One," "Fix You," "A Message," and "Twisted Logic," is very different than the two before it. "X&Y" provides a deeper look into the mind of singer / songwriter Chris Martin. Whether he's singing about how he's going to 'fix you,' or just what the 'hardest part' really is, he succeeds in making the music some of the best to come out in the last half-decade.

Coldplay's description of each song being a dedication to each of their favourite bands is about right - and at times the similarities are too easily identifiable. This is most prevelant in the song "The Hardest Part," which sounds just a little bit too close to R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion" and "Imitation of Life."

Nevertheless, "X&Y" is tearing up the charts, and though this is not often a good reason to buy the album, in this instance, it is. Wherever you turn, you're likely to hear the radio-friendly "Speed of Sound," and soon, you will experience the same with songs such as "Square One" and "Fix You." The primary difference between this album and the last is that this album is not made for the radio - it will just happen to appear there. Many of the songs take two minutes to get fully started, and that's just the way it should be, because with the epic feel of "Fix You" and "Low," Coldplay sounds better than ever.

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I'm sure most readers who are aware that Chris Martin is Coldplay's frontman will also be aware that he is a chronic worrier. Male pattern baldness, people not liking his band, the future of the third world and of course the response to perhaps the most eagerly awaited British album since Kid A, X & Y. Eighteen months in the making, the 'cream' of ninety three songs penned by Martin since 2003's A Rush Of Blood to the Head, X & Y introduces a new side to Coldplay. A pseudo-progressive rock side that fans of Parachutes would never have expected. A mix of songs displaying a band's new found interest in electronics and what many critics have called 'classic Coldplay' - the 4/4 ballad with falsetto vocals and no surprises.

The album launches with the energetic opener "Square One", the title already giving the LP a concept-album feel. With deep, sweeping keyboards, spage age bleeps, drum'n'bass rhythms and not an acoustic guitar in sight (until the end), anyone would be forgiven for thinking that Chris Martin had replaced Thom Yorke in a Radiohead tribute to Brian Eno.

This new directional shift continues in the frighteningly funky "White Shadows" and the haunting "X & Y", reminscent of Radiohead's "The Pyramid Song". The band have displayed an expanding array of instruments to broaden their sound, and at times some Pink Floyd moments are hard to ignore.

However, Coldplay are back to their old self in sporadic doses throughout the album, with 'What If', 'Swallowed in the Sea' and what surely will be the 'One' for the noughties, 'Fix You'. Martin's imperfect vocals, the sparse mix and a heart-wrenchingly beautiful end makes the song Coldplay's greatest yet. Lyrically it is clear that Martin has matured, what with fatherhood and all that has come from fame and fortune.

The hidden track, "Till Kingdom Come", is perhaps Martin's rawest take of both vocals and guitar, but it gives it a lush texture, and there is no better song with which to end this album than the tribute to Johnny Cash.

If Chris Martin meant what he said about "taking out U2" with this album, then he has failed. What he has succeeded in doing, however, is moving in a different direction whilst holding onto their heritage. Coldplay's fanbase will have increased with this record, but rest assured no hardcore "Chris with an acoustic guitar" fans will be offended by the computers and more mature sound. Liam Gallagher's comment about Martin being a "knobhead student" surely holds no fire now, what with Coldplay's hatrick of brilliant albums, and Gallagher's crumbling, has-been outfit. Coldplay are here to stay, and have now cemented their existance firmly in both sides of the Atlantic.

This is a superb album from a band who work extremely hard, and almost drive themselves insane to make the "best music ever". Whether or not you agree that this is what they have done, or ever will, soon the world will love Coldplay, as the world now loves U2. But not quite yet.

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