With 2002's A Rush Of Blood To The Head, Coldplay had pretty much reached the pinnacle of its career. Any eventual record was destined not to be as big a favorite as that release.
As expected, X&Y is no Rush and will never be remembered as Coldplay's best. In terms of style, the band has made a conscious effort to seek a new sound for the follow-up. Going with the trend of the current time, X&Y is Coldplay's "New Wave" record.
Finding itself among the current batch of New Wave revivalists, which include a good number of groups that are embarrassingly (and shamelessly) trying to imitate the sounds of Joy Division (or New Order or The Cure) note-for-note - making complete fools of themselves as well as blatantly disgracing their idols - Coldplay, in its original style, has offered its own interpretation of the New Wave on X&Y. Taking lessons in the form of inspiration (knowingly or unknowingly) from some of the most creative rock bands of the late '80s/early '90s (like U2 and Catherine Wheel), Coldplay has a razor-sharp post-punk sound for X&Y, the band's hardest to date.
The new interpretation of the band's inherent Britpop ballady style is full of rasping guitars, arrogantly dancey bass hooks and drums that pound carefree with emancipated joy after freeing themselves from the shackles that held them gagged and bound for five years and two records. Berryman, Buckland and Champion have never tried harder to compete with the ardor and passion of Martin's singing, and it is difficult to determine the winner among them.
Beginning with the opener "Square One," Coldplay's tribute to '80s post-punk Brit rock is seen on alternating numbers, with the band creating noises that would make the veterans of New Wave look back on their past careers and realize that the only problem with their music was the hair.
In between the fiery post-punk pieces are the kinds of cuts which Coldplay specializes in (and has perfected over the years): overly sappy cadging love songs that make Martin look like the most irresistible guy who, in his attempts to woo, could stoop to such low levels so as to make himself pathetically abandoned and defenseless but still seem damn sexy. Just check out the lyrics for "A Message" -- "You're the target that I'm aiming at; and I'm nothing on my own / On a platform I'm gonna stand and say; that I'm nothing on my own / And I love you, please come home."
With X&Y, it is heartening to see that Martin and gang are still full of the earnest passion that Coldplay is known for, even after achieving "super-stardom" status, which could easily have gotten to the band's head and paralyzed its creativity.
It is very clear - with the album/song-titles, the lyrics, the artwork, and the spaced-out cuts like "X&Y" and "Twisted Logic" - that Coldplay has tried to put a "science" spin to the album. This adventurism is not as drastic as Radiohead's OK Computer, and Coldplay has only tweaked this concept to match its own style. The fact of the matter is, Coldplay is no Radiohead, and it is very clear which band is the Beatles of the current generation.
Still, Coldplay is one of the most original bands today, and X&Y, as with the previous two records, affirms this fact. Though undeniably Coldplay has attained iconic status, it still has to face the test of time before it could enjoy being one of the greatest rock n' roll bands of the current generation and for the generation to come.