On first listen, I found this album both overblown and cheesy. Consider the structure of the song “Fix You”:
- A verse, all about someone at the end of their rope and how the singer’s going to reach out and help them, sung in Chris Martin’s trademark falsetto with aery organ accompaniment.
- Second verse sung to same, with acoustic guitar strumming with increasing energy, leading to:
- Drums! Electric guitar! A big wall o’ sound playing the same riff over and over and over again.
- Both verses, this time sung by approximately twenty Chris Martins in unison with wall o’ sound accompaniment.
- The first verse, again, this time in Chris Martin’s trademark quiet voice, with subdued regular piano.
That’s it. That’s the song. Basically one melody and a guitar riff, played on slightly different instruments, quiet then LOUD then quiet. Fini.
And yet, dang it, it grew on me. The whole album grew on me. It almost never happens, in books or in film, that an initial judgment of something as “cheesy” ever gets replaced in one’s mind. You can come to like something that you found too slow at first, or too cerebral, or even too predictable. But too cheesy? Rarely. And yet, in music, this has happened to me time and again. The stuff gets under your skin. It seduces you.
X&Y is no Rush of Blood to the Head, but it’s a solid album, and proof that Coldplay still has a subtle magic that will carry them far. In one of those “is Coldplay the best band in the universe?” interviews I read somewhere, when asked if he thought if his band was better than Radiohead, Chris Martin said: “No. But we will be.” I’m skeptical, but nevertheless: good luck, guys.
The Killers, Hot Fuss
It’s from last year, but I’m forever playing catch-up with music these days. This is the album that has finally unseated American Idiot in the highly-competetive “Stuff Nate Plays Really Loud When Driving Alone” slot. Average number of times that I listen to “All These Things That I Have Done” in a row: 2. Record number of times: 5. Great song. The band seems a little bit like a transplant from the 80’s—probably because of those synthesizers—but had they actually been around back then we wouldn’t need to be as embarrassed by that decade’s music.
The White Stripes, Get Behind Me Satan
If someone had told me beforehand that in the Stripes’ next album, Jack White would set aside his guitar in favor of a piano and a marimba, for Pete’s sake, I would have said “Ah. This is it. Convinced he can do no wrong, Jack White has decided to go all gonzo on us. He’s done gone and jumped the shark.”
So now it’s official, I guess: Jack White can do no wrong. Get Behind Me Satan is awesome in a thousand unpredictable ways. The White Stripes rock the whole world.