Summary

After Radiohead stubbornly refused to accept the mantle of "world's biggest and most important rock band" by releasing the willfully strange rocktronica fusion Kid A in 2000, Coldplay stepped up to the plate with their debut, Parachutes. Tasteful, earnest, introspective, anthemic, and grounded in guitars, the British quartet was everything Radiohead weren't but what the public wanted them to be, and benefited from the Oxford quintet's decision to abandon rock stardom for arcane art rock. Parachutes became a transatlantic hit and 2002's sequel, A Rush of Blood to the Head, consolidated their success by being bigger and better than Parachutes, positioning Coldplay to not be just the new Radiohead, but the new U2: a band that belongs to the world but fans believe that the music is for them alone. To that end, Coldplay's third album, X&Y -- slightly delayed so it follows Rush of Blood by nearly three years, but that's no longer than the time separating OK Computer and Kid A, or The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree -- is designed to be the record that elevates Coldplay to the major leagues, where they are at once the biggest and most important band in the world. It's deliberate and sleek, cinematic and pristine, hip enough to sample Kraftwerk and blend in fashionable retro-'80s post-punk allusions without altering the band's core. Indeed, X&Y is hardly a bold step forward, but rather a consolidation of Coldplay's strengths, particularly their skill at crafting surging, widescreen epics. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine