How do you follow a debut album, which was both earnest in its romanticism and phenomenally successful? Why, you write another bunch of songs that will touch the hearts of the masses, progress musically and thematically and sell shedloads, of course! This is what Coldplay needed to do after the stellar achievement of Parachutes and its subsequent infiltration into the populace's subconscious and they have done just that, with varying amounts of success.
Critics and the public at large will be soiling their underwear, for weeks to come and there are many reasons for such premature exaltations. A Rush Of Blood… retains the little boy lost heartbreak of the classic debut, but expands into, dare we say "Stadium Rock" territory. There are many obvious reference points, including Bends era Radiohead and a smattering of Echo and The Bunnymen, but the most glaringly obvious similarity (in more ways than simply musical) is that of Bono and his band of stadia sullied superheroes. There is an ambitious and purposeful backbone to this album, that seems at odds with the main and most endearing quality of Coldplay's music, its fragile humanity. There are still many moments of gorgeous melancholy, such as on The Scientist, where Chris Martin laments a lost relationship and how "Nobody said it was easy, no-one ever said it would be so hard", all to a tune reminiscent of Oasis's Don't Look Back In Anger melting like hot sugar into One by U2. Closing track Amsterdam is one of the best songs Coldplay have ever written and brings the album to a poignant conclusion, with its wonderfully affecting piano driven melody.
The main gripe is that there are many moments where they are obviously incorporating their influences and stretching their sound, but veer dangerously close to merely aping their heroes, to the detriment of the distinctive sound of Coldplay. Such as on A Whisper, which suffers in the "style over substance" stakes and tends to meander aimlessly, instead of nailing down the killer hook that is lurking amongst its Bunnymen fixated grooves. But these criticisms are maybe a little churlish, when there are songs of the quality of Warning Sign and the dozily romantic Green Eyes to wallow hopelessly in.
Not the classic that many have suggested then, but still worthy of a large portion of the praise that is being heaped upon its broadening shoulders. 7/10
Reviewed By Mark Mason
23rd of September 2002