Of genes and stars
"Is there anybody out there who is lost and hurt and lonely too?" Chris Martin poses a question in "Square One," the opening track of Coldplay's latest effort X&Y. Perhaps it is even an invitation for all the melancholics to listen and sympathize with his mental distress.
So what has caused this mental distress? Superstardom, maybe. Coldplay started out stargazing in Parachutes, and shot for the stars in A Rush of Blood to the Head. Now, they are the stars being gazed and shot at in X&Y. The feeling of separation anxiety glimmers in the song "What If," which is probably inspired by Martin's wife Gwyneth Paltrow, as he asks:
"What if you should decide
That you don't want me there by your side?
That you don't want me there in your life?"
But in the chorus, Martin, with his forlorn falsettos, proposes, "Let's try, how can you know it if you don't even try?" which decodes the real meaning of X&Y: hope and fear. In this album, Martin is both hopeful and fearful of things that may happen in the future.
Musically, X&Y's genotype is still Coldplay, with the genetic start/stop formula dominant in most of the songs. But phenotypically, characters of pop and dance music are noticeable especially in "White Shadows," "Talk," "Low" and the carrier single "Speed of Sound."
Lyrically, the genotype is still the honest Coldplay, with Martin's usual lyrical shortcomings in a few songs. In the "Hardest Part," he whines "And the hardest part was letting go, not taking part was the hardest part," and the song gets harder to listen as it moves on. In "A Message" he announces a sappy declaration "My song is love," that would make Liam Gallagher laugh his lungs out.
The main spectacle in this outing is the lifting ballad "Fix You," the British quartet's best song ever, surpassing the winsome melodies of past hits "Yellow" and "Clocks." "Fix You" is a relationship anthem in the tradition of R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts" and U2's "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out of." Here, Martin shows how can one promise love and loyalty to a loved one:
"Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones,
And I will try to fix you.
X&Y debuted at the top of Billboard Magazine's 200 Albums, beating The White Stripes and Black Eyed Peas in CD sales. On its second week, the album remained at the number one spot and held back Foo Fighters' double disc In Your Honor in second place and Backstreet Boys' Never Gone in third place. Coldplay is definitely the biggest band at present, and the star that everybody gazes and shoots at. And in X&Y, Coldplay just shines, with a few signs of falling off from its place.