Coldplay - Speed of Sound

Alex Worsnip 23/05/2005

Rating: 4/5

Oh, admit it: you've got to admire Coldplay. It's so easy to get bored of their sound, especially when you have hundreds of sub-standard aping bands riding on their back constantly: Athlete and Keane to mention just a couple, and those bands are genuinely terrible. But every time Coldplay come back they remind you just how much better they actually are. They have perfected what they do, and even the most cold-hearted
have to admit, they do it rather well. Speed of Sound starts slowly, with a pointless little piano riff and a U2-aping opening melody suggesting this could be somewhat rent-a-Coldplay. But a minute or two in, the track takes off into the stratosphere and you think, “damn, they've got me again”, because despite all your best efforts to scorn it, it's a wonderful track. The sound at its high-point is irrestable, Chris Martin's voice unique and fragile in a way Joel Potts will never be able to muster.

This isn't a return to the beautiful but sometimes inconsequential understated indie of their debut, nor does it bear the hallmarks of the worst moments of the second album, when they started wanting to be “anthemic” in a U2 stylee with over-polished ballads. Rather, it springs from the seed of the sound of 'Clocks' (which, as Martin acknowledged, was not in keeping with the style of the album it was drawn from, and formed a possbile future direction), centring around
the creation of soundscapes within the confines of disciplined pop song writing, so that Speed Of Sound has all the atmospheric, ethereal beauty of Sigur Ros and yet all the memorable melody of Oasis in their slow-ballad mode. Consequently, Coldplay are elevated beyond the MOR of
previous singles like 'In My Place' and 'The Scientist', which are merely made for tearjerking moments in BBC dramas, and towards something rather special.