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music reviewmusic reviewmusic review  out of 4 Music Review: Parachutes

Artist: Coldplay
Genre: Rock/Pop
Release Date: November 2000

Review by LarryG
3 stars out of 4

The transition of pop rock acts at the top of the British charts is good news. I'd had enough of Oasis and their Beatles rip offs and the big egos and silly squabbles of the Gallagher brothers. Radiohead, Travis and Coldplay are trying something different, making good, atmospheric music. The downside of Travis and Coldplay is the absence of rock song excitement. Their music, while pleasant, can tend toward easy listening. Still, if Coldplay's Parachutes is only sometimes compelling, it is well made and very listenable. Even more so than Travis, who aren't above the occasional nasty snipe in their lyrics, Coldplay come across as genuinely decent guys, in their lyrics, vocals and imaginative but not ostentatious music.

Parachutes is best on its two more rocking songs. Shiver is probably the best song on Parachutes. Alternately intense and relaxed, swooping between an easy baritone and a fearless falsetto, Chris Martin sounds eerily like the late Jeff Buckley. Jon Buckland shifts between an ethereal guitar line on the verse and a good, tight rock riff on the chorus. Martin is cool even as he sings "you'll always get your way" to a woman who ignores him, pledging "I'll be there by your side, just you try and stop me." Yellow deservedly became a radio hit. It's a perfect pop confection, a warm and inviting love song given an edge by Buckland's steadily strummed guitar. Martin's voice has the intensity and yearning of Radiohead's Thom Yorke but he's also appealingly vulnerable, innocent and lacking in pretension as he pays tribute to a woman who makes the stars shine and lists the things he'd do for her.

The rest of Parachutes is mostly very mellow. Will Champion's drums are usually pretty minimal. All the songs sound good and a number of them are really compelling. Don't Panic has a cool restraint with Buckland's good, evocative guitar and Martin's fluid, unshowy vocals. Coldplay benefit from a trip into Radiohead territory on High Speed, which has the good, spacy synth atmosphere of a song like Subterranean Homesick Alien. High Speed is pretty cool even if Martin lacks Yorke's powerful intensity. On a few songs, Martin reminds me not of Yorke or Buckley but the serious but hardly unremarkable Francis Dunnery. But Martin's lack of flash fits well with Coldplay's easy music. The music's not as ambitious as Radiohead's but it's consistently good and charmingly unpretentious. Trouble has a good low key melancholy. The lyric and Martin's voice and piano are appealingly unassuming. Martin apologizes for "all the stupid things I've done" swearing, "I never meant to do you wrong." The CD's short title track, with just Martin's voice and an acoustic, is one of many songs on Parachutes where Martin pledges to patiently wait for the object of his affection to reciprocate his love. Even the lesser songs on Parachutes are very listenable with good aural touches. Buckland's cool, metallic guitar line gives Spies a good, moody atmosphere but the song kind of drags and the lyric is a little silly, imagining a world filled with spies then seeing "that no one is free, we're all fugitives." Sparks is slight but genial. It also has a bit of the Buckley vibe. Martin lets out a low moan, over quiet guitar and keyboards, apparently telling his fans then a lover, "I'll always look out for you", "I won't let you down." We Never Change doesn't really go anywhere but it has a slow elegance. Martin's muted vocal, over quiet guitar and keyboards, is another promise of decency, "I wanna live life and never be cruel, I wanna live life and be good to you." Everything's Not Lost has the melancholy piano of a bar room ballad. Martin tries to stay optimistic even as he's "counting up my demons", finishing with a slow, Hey Jude style fade out: "oh yeah, everything's not lost." Parachutes' hidden track, Life Is For Living, is another Martin apology. It's a nice finish with a melancholy but rich sound, filled out by an orchestra. Martin typically sounds both subdued and optimistic.

Parachutes is an appealing record. It's often not that exciting but it always sounds good with a nice, dreamlike atmosphere. Chris Martin isn't the greatest singer but in his vocals and lyrics, he presents an appealingly real, humble and likable personal.



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