Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Coldplay: Parachutes

It's a common and time-honored practice to lament the shortcomings of chart-topping music, but today's most popular acts do seem to lack one crucial element: warmth. With notable exceptions (such as Radiohead's marvelous Kid A, which compensates for its chilly nature with mountains of texture and layers to discover), many of the best and most widely adored albums in recent years have had it. So it's no surprise that a cultish cottage industry has sprung up featuring bands inspired by the late Jeff Buckley, a fearless singer who seemed equally at home with muscular guitar-rock arrangements and the more sensitive, androgynous works of Nina Simone and Benjamin Britten. Of the acts to advance Buckley's legacy of ambition and vocal gymnastics since his 1997 death, Muse and Travis have released wonderful albums, and the English band Coldplay joins their ranks with its domestic debut, Parachutes. Showcasing the group's boundless warmth and flair for moodily dramatic pop craftsmanship—and, after no fewer than five EPs, proving its ability to sustain a mood over the course of a full-length album—the disc is likable from wire to wire, deviating from that consistency only to hit transcendent peaks with "Spies" and the perfect single "Yellow." Unfairly dismissed by a few critics as a Travis-come-lately, Coldplay stakes out its own winning place on Parachutes, an album with some of the year's most dizzying peaks.


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