Parachutes is a bald, unabashed testament to the squishier emotions, boasting such syrupy lyrics as "I wanna live life and be good to you." That the album is the handiwork of four London boys in their twenties gives a gal hope in these dark days of flying middle fingers courtesy of the vitriolic Eminem, the swaggering Kid Rock and the vapid Fred Durst.

Coldplay has crafted a surprisingly strong debut, which has garnered the inevitable comparisons to Radiohead and the Verve -- and which earned Q magazine's album of the year -- but which also taps a romantic vein with more intensity and earnestness than any recent offerings from across the pond.

While the lads aren't producing anything musically extraordinary -- merely crafting expert guitar-based alt-pop with some hazy atmospherics à la the Cocteau Twins -- they're certainly delivering the goods lyrically and vocally. Take, for example, "Shiver," a declaration of eternal devotion, one that's sadly unrequited. In it, vocalist Chris Martin channels Jeff Buckley (which is hardly unique; many of Martin's fellow countrymen also want to emulate the late singer-songwriter, including post-Bends Thom Yorke and Travis's Francis Healy). Martin's not afraid to let it all hang out, and he makes you want him to get the girl.

The album's first single, "Yellow," has certainly moved us to tears. The tune's sentiment is ache-inducing in its sincerity, despite those perky guitar lines. "You're skin and bones turning into something beautiful" is a heartbreaker of a line, and when Martin sings, "For you I'd bleed myself dry," you can't help but think he means it. The title track is unspeakably lovely, too, and it says volumes in its eight brief lines. Expect your CD player to get stuck on it two or three or 12 times before moving on to the next song.

One complaint about Parachutes: It's too short. Ten songs clocking in at 42 minutes is just plain stingy (especially given the price of CDs these days). But despite its laconic ways, Coldplay would seem to be the perfect boyfriend. Sensitive, manly, the boys can stand outside this critic's bedroom window, boombox held high, anytime.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Melanie Haupt