Coldplay – Parachutes (2000) Review

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Back in 2000, Coldplay were the new band on the block, with their second single ‘Yellow’ storming up to no. 4 in the UK chart, soon after, their full album ‘Parachutes’ debuted at No.1 in the UK.

Coldplay’s mainstream success and ability to write universally appealing songs hasn’t changed since they started, however the Coldplay of 2000 is quite a different one to now. We didn’t have the joy (or agony) of watching Chris Martin dance around in a weird hopping fashion, and they would be happy to rock up to a gig in their lazy Sunday clothing, other than their multi-coloured attire of today.

Their music has changed a lot too, you won’t hear any catchy pop hits like ‘Paradise’ or ‘A Sky Full Of Stars’ on Parachutes. There’s more breathing space, with tracks like ‘Trouble’, ‘Spies’ and ‘Everything’s Not Lost’. The space gives an overall sense of melancholy, and leaves room for Jonny Buckland’s guitar parts to shine. Particularly in ’Spies’, helping to give atmosphere and glue the track together.

There’s a Jazz influence on ‘Sparks’ and ‘Everything’s Not Lost’, this is something we haven’t heard prominently on any other Coldplay album, and is a really nice addition, there’s also a Jeff Buckley style vocal performance on ‘Shiver’, and you can hear nods to Radiohead on ‘Spies’ and ‘High Speed’.

The production quality is brilliant on Parachutes, but importantly doesn’t feel overproduced, and still has a raw, organic feel to it. The simple instrumentation helps with that ‘raw’ sound, with predominantly just Bass, Drums, Guitar and Piano.

Many fans have been longing for a Parachutes esq album from Coldplay for way over a decade, I however think it would be a step backwards if they were churn out something similar. We already have a Parachutes, and it’s brilliant. This album marks the start of Coldplay’s reign as one of the biggest bands of the Noughties.

Favourite Song – Trouble

Hidden Gem – Everything’s Not Lost

Rating – 8.5/10

Parachutes

Owned on CD.

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Coldplay – X & Y (2005) Review

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Coldplays third studio album ‘X&Y’ features huge choruses, bucket loads of electric guitar, and some of my all time favourite Coldplay songs.

In interviews they have expressed that this is their least favourite album they’ve made, without going into detail as to why. Some people think this is where their music started to go downhill, and tend to swear by their first two records whilst dismissing anything else they’ve done. However, lots of fans regard this album as some of Coldplays best work, myself included. Popular tracks include ‘Fix You’, ‘The Hardest Part’, & ‘Speed of Sound’, all incredible songs in my opinion, plus there’s plenty more great tracks that are relatively unknown.

In terms of the instruments and sound of the album, not much has changed since A Rush Of Blood To The Head. They haven’t exactly re-invented themselves, but I don’t really have an issue with that. I would say that Parachutes and AROBTTH have a more raw feel to them, which is perhaps what some fans miss with X&Y. Despite this, tracks like ‘Talk’, ‘Swallowed In The Sea’ and ‘What If’ show their ability to write great songs, and I can see X&Y in my top 3 or 4 Coldplay albums.

The use of organ really works in this album. It’s heard more prominently in ‘Fix You’ and ‘The Hardest Part’, and is used in a way that sits in the mix nicely without it becoming cheesy. The combination of strings and organ in ‘Fix You’ whilst the words ‘Lights will guide you home’ are sung is heart-wrenchingly beautiful, and is definitely a highlight of the album.

One of my favourite tracks ‘Swallowed In The Sea’ is written in a sort of nursery poem style, which oddly works really well. The track builds up from nothing and ends on a huge chorus, with the help of the Martin’s vocals and Johnny Buckland’s impeccable guitar parts, which really help the track come alive. Buckland’s guitar parts deserve a mention on tracks such as ‘Twisted Logic’ and ‘Low’, where his riffs and ability to make the guitar sound huge give brilliant light and shade to the songs.

In my opinion, there isn’t a bad track on X&Y. It’s a well crafted record, and shows their ability to write great songs that relate to millions of people on a personal level.

Favourite Song – Fix You

Hidden Gem – Swallowed In The sea

Rating – 9/10

X&YAlbum

Owned on CD.

Bruno Mars – Unorthodox Jukebox (2012) Review

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Bruno had a lot to live up to after the huge mainstream success of his debut, but instead of slipping into the dreaded 2nd album syndrome, he hit back with another no.1 album and a string of hits under his belt.

Mars’s ability to delve into other styles shows what a rounded artists he is, Rock, Rnb & Pop are the main players, and he dips between them with ease. Due to more artistic freedom from his record label, the lyrical and musical themes are expanded; Mars stated that this album is ‘more of him and what he stands for’, and as a result we’re given darker themes of sex and drugs in songs like ‘Gorilla’ and ‘Money Make Her Smile’.

I’m a sucker for a pop melody, and this album certainly ticks that box for me. Tracks such as ‘Moonshine’ and ‘Locked Out of Heaven’ are in my opinion, melodic perfection; so good in fact, that he could get away with singing about anything and I wouldn’t care. For me though, contrary to popular critics, he delivers on a lyrical level too; I especially like ‘When I Was Your Man’ for this – a simple & universal theme about love and heartbreak that leaves your heart wrenching, with the musical chops to back it up.

Mars’s live performances are off the scale, and I prefer them over the studio recordings a lot of the time. I’d much rather this than the other way round (a good album but a shoddy live performance). He tends to switch up the arrangements, which I really like, so much so that when I listen back to the record I miss that live magic. ‘Treasure’ is one that sticks out for me; it sounds great on the record, but when played live it seems to groove better.

When I stick on an album, I like to be taken on a journey. The vast amount of styles featured in ‘Unorthodox Jukebox’ doesn’t allow this in my opinion; and although the tracks are all great, I feel that as a collection they don’t fit together as well as they could. That being said, this album is a brilliant listen with some real pop masterpieces. The Hawaiian megastar seems unstoppable at the moment. Since, he’s gone on to release smash hit ‘Uptown Funk’ and incredible new album ’24k Magic’, surely making his mark as one of Pop’s greatest solo artists.

Favourite Song – Locked Out of Heaven

Hidden Gem – Moonshine

Rating – 7.5/10

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Signed copy, owned on CD.