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.