X & Y
When wags call Coldplay the next U2, they mean the British quartet is the Next Great Anthem Band. Coldplay finds strength in the crescendo, the ethereal chorus, the dramatic pause and the spare outro: songs to sing along to with 20,000 of your closest friends. Think of “Yellow,” their biggest single, and its tiny acoustic guitar intro slamming into a percussion-heavy electric riff. Think of “Politik,” the opener of 2001’s great A Rush of Blood to the Head, which does the exact opposite, pausing near the end for a signature high-pitched Chris Martin solo, then building back to its original height. Coldplay makes smart pop music for mix CDs, for weddings, for film credit sequences. Coldplay, like U2, is the mainstream band everyone can like — without pause, without shame, even when Martin hacks out cliché imagery like “Your heavy heart/is made of stone.” The lush, full X & Y is long-delayed, long-awaited, long on buzz. Much like Sarah Harmer’s anticipated 2004 release All of Our Names, it’s a grower, filtering in and out of your consciousness until in an unexpected moment, it comes together as something cohesive, memorable and worth waiting for. The catchier sections stick on first listen, though it takes time for the lyrics — self-doubting olive branches made of words — to sink in through the wall of guitars, layers of backing vocals and synth flourishes. The ultimate result is what Kary called its first record: the sound of beauty breathing.