Classic Album Review: A Rush of Blood to the Head
Unquestionably the best Coldplay album, and one of my personal favorite soft rock albums ever.
Background and History: Alternative/ Britpop band Coldplay burst onto the scene with Parachutes, released in 2000. The album was met to critical acclaim, providing a gentle, folk-y acoustic smear of rock that hadn’t reached it’s popularity by that point. It’s soft, welcoming blend of acoustic guitars, occasionally space-y keyboards, and gentle, high-pitched vocals provided by Mr. Chris Martin. No epic synths, orchestras, or mountainous choral parts present in their two most recent albums (Viva La Vida and Mylo Xyloto) However, something that can easily be said about Parachutes, especially when re-listening to it today, is that it did, in parts, get a little too mellow and sad, even to the point where songs blended together, and not in a good way. Luckily, this is definitely not something that can be said about the follow-up, A Rush of Blood to the Head.
Release: A Rush of Blood to the Head was released in August 2002, to a lot of hopeful fans dreaming of more Coldplay. It sold over 270,000 copies in it’s first week, and was met to much critical praise. Throughout the album were various themes of hope, something the band focused on bringing into their work following the September 11 attacks.
Best Tracks: The more mature, developed, confident style of music trader fewer ridiculously personal lyrics present in Parachutes for moving, emotional piano ballads, which, along with the more variety in guitar playing and more creative bass lines, makes a wonderful musical theme throughout the album. The track that demonstrates this the best on the album is probably ‘Clocks’, which is one you’ve probably heard. It’s built around an absolutely wonderful piano riff, with very background-y/restrained bass, guitar and drums, with lyrics about contrast and urgency, deserving to be one of Coldplay’s most famous songs.
Another star track is ‘God Put A Smile Upon Your Face’, one of the most confident sounding tracks on the album. From it’s perfectly structured acoustic guitar beginning to the higher more defiant electric guitar licks, this is a track where it’s obvious to see influence on the band by artists “with a bit more energy”, as vocalist Chris Martin described. The track also contains a glorious, subtle bass line from Mr. Guy Berryman, which becomes all the more powerful and brilliant when you slap on a pair of Bass-boosting headphones, and it clashes perfectly with the uptempo drumming of the track.
How Has it Withstood the Test of Time?
At #466 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and with two Grammys under it’s belt, it is impossible to deny that A Rush of Blood to the Head is a fantastic album. It’s obvious to see how the albums success affected the band, as their later work is much more similar to this one over Parachutes. Sadly, however, Mylo Xyloto was a drop in quality in the band’s career, embracing modern musical influences and stabs of electonic here and there. This resulted in too-grand-for-their-own-good explosive singles and naff, forgettable filler tracks. Since work on a sixth album is confirmed, we can only sit back and hope that it’ll retreat back to the simple yet still wonderful classic rock of A Rush of Blood to the Head.