Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Ever since Jon Pareles savaged them in The New York Times a few years ago, Coldplay has been a band that the cool kids won't touch. Actually, the cool kids probably don't give a rat's ass what the New York Times Arts and Leisure section says about a band, but the cool adults sure do. It didn't help that their next album, the lethargic X & Y, confirmed about 2/3 of Pareles' accusations, snarky and New York Times-ish as they were.  (Is that an adjective?  It should be.)

For all that, I've always liked Coldplay. I like Chris Martin's voice: I like a lot of their music, and I generally support their entire aesthetic.  They have the courage to be positive, to sing about big things without irony or cynicism.  Sometimes that makes them sound pretty vacuous, but on the other hand it also allows for moments of real spiritual beauty ("Yellow," for example, is a song I still find incredibly moving).  Are they as emotionally or musically sophisticated as Radiohead? No. Can Chris Martin come off, as the Brits say, as something of a nob? Yes he can. Still, I always wince when someone starts slamming into Coldplay.  It's just too easy.  Why not burn a few disco records while you're at it?

And I really like the new album ("Vida La Vida"). It's definitely their best to date. Adding Brian Eno to produce was a great idea; there's a little more sonic complexity; the album tends to be faster and heavier than their previous work, and Martin keeps the falsetto to a minimum.  It's got at least three great songs on it ("Yes" is my favorite of the moment) and it rewards relistening; a lot of the songs get better the more you hear them.  

It's probably not the best album of the year (not that I would know) but it's definitely better than In Rainbows (Radiohead's newest album).  So, you know, give it a listen.  Let me know what you all think.... (Except you, Johannes) 


Dezmond said...

I really like the new one as well. I agree it is their best, although I was only a casual fan of their previous three. A very melodic and catchy (and sometimes anthemic) album. the closest thing to a modernday U2.

La Critika said...

I'm guessing you've seen this week's New Yorker?

JMW said...

I haven't heard the new album, but I do like the single. I bought their first CD, but have only known them a few songs at a time since. I think I fall somewhere between you and the NY Times.

Cold Bacon said...

at the risk of sounding like an a-hole. Coldplay does not "suck" per se. they just aren't as good as they might have been had they turned out differently. their lead singer undoubtedly has a wonderful voice matched only by his most excellent facial stubble. radiohead is an important band historically and that's fine. and i will never forsake them for what they have given me in the past. but they're done now. U2 has and always will be one of the most overrated bands ever. not saying they're bad (wait), just saying they're overrated. it doesn't take a new york times or new yorker or whatever the most blogtastic reviewer thinks to recognize all of these truths. it only takes a set of ears. and for the next person to rave about prince being a musical genius? fine. whatever. you can listen to prince. i'll take my hendrix "blue wild angel" any day. (in fact every day). please. if people would spend less time listening to what other people have to say and write about these (and all) things and just listening to hendrix, the world would be so much more as i want it to be.

ANCIANT said...


Nice to see you posting. I'm not sure exactly your point, or points, but still.

I don't think listening to Coldplay precludes listening to Prince or Hendrix, unless there are laws in force I'm not aware of. Though I'll admit to not listening to either very much in the last year or so. I must be getting old.

I don't really think U2 is that overrated, actually. Their best albums really were as good as the praise they received, at least by my listening. I don't think anyone thinks their last two or three records have been anything special, but go back to the 80s and 90s, and it's hard for me to find much bad to say about Joshua Tree, Zooropa, War, Boy, and my personal favorite (and most Bowie-esque), Achtung Baby. A lot of their music suffers from being played way way too often in all sorts of horrible contexts, but that's not really their fault.

A band that IS highly overrated, I think, is REM. Though, as the years pass on, I think they sound more and more dated, more and more a decent garage type band that happened to hit the right scene at the right time.

Cold Bacon said...

no it doesn't preclude. but there is only so much time. so it's opportunity cost. and furthermore, every time you listen to bad music or watch bad tv, etc. or read my blog posts for another example. your soul is being sucked away incrementally. so there is that. and also it rains somewhere.

U2? fuckit. i won't argue. i suppose there is subjectivity here. i have never found their music all that compelling but whatever. i can make no logical argument against them nor should i try to tell you that you don't like them. you probably do.

REM isn't even worth our time bashing. they are a part of our memory just like eggo waffles and cher. but not worth the few remaining thoughts we still have left in our dying heads.

belle and sebastian = not too twee and anyone who doesn't like them is wrong. they are good.

fiery furnaces = also good = truly novel and doing things other bands have not done lyrically and musically.

of course pinback. of course xyz other good bands.

i know no one here cares too much for electronic but i will name 2 quality names

vitalic = good (if you want something faster tempo than something like AIR which is good, but anyway vitalic is faster and harder -- and that's not just what she said)

RJD2 = good (usually) -- dead ringer is a great album if you like DJ mix c-rap

bottom line: coldplay is not very important. these other bands we (and i) mention are. things like bowie, parliamant (g. clinton), professor longhair, dylan, hendrix, etc. these musicians change music and change our lives -- change the outcome of mankind.

coldplay is not among these things. and therefore any time spent discussing them is more for the byproduct/side-elements of the discussion. like that which is in the new yorker -- it isn't ever about the actual THING or topic. it's about what new yorker readers feel about the topic. the new yorker is a magazine about its readers' minds/feelings/aspirations. not actual content. that goes for the film reviews and anything else in it. likewise, talking about coldplay is more about talking about why people are seduced by so-and-so's vocals or why a band goes in this direction or that direction. you don't talk about hendrix or bowie because what are you going to say? yeah. there's nothing to say.

god i'm a pompous fuck. and believe me, it's no small burden. i hate it.

Cold Bacon said...

i rest my own case:



The Metrosexiest said...

coldplay = not a great voice. notoriously bad live, in fact. that's all.