“Yellow” came out when I was still in high school, back before I could drive, right about when I probably lost my virginity. I remember the opening of chords of that song—those guitars filled with throbbing melancholy, the same saccharine earnestness that defined my youth. With equal clarity, I remember the video. It was the type of video that only happens to a band before they get famous, a sort of smaller genius, badly lit, shot on the budget that requires vision and patience and dedication to a band that was about to get as big as Coldplay was going to be. This is Coldplay’s finest moment, because it is the most barebones and genuine and accessible. That boy on the beach, you thought, that could be me.
But then Coldplay became Coldplay, and it felt less like someone had stolen your diary in the middle of the night and written you a track just for you while you slept, and more enjoyably generic—light shows, lagging lyrics, arena pop. The shininess of success comes with its drawbacks, namely relatability. Chris Martin was no longer this skinny twerp in an oversized windbreaker and a pair of baggy pants; he was married to Queen GOOP. The albums become massive, U-2 affairs. Which, I guess if I were starting a band, that’s the direction I would want to go. Crashing on your friend’s couch and never being able to take your babe out to dinner sounds pretty lame when you’ve hit the +30 club.
Don’t get me wrong. Coldplay isn’t a massively horrible band (Speaking of horrible bands, if you’re lucky I’ll share my Fred Durst story with ya’ll one day), it just falls into another category. Pop. It feels too polished to be personal, produced to the point of untrustworthiness – like how the fast food hamburgers look too good on television to be true… every sesame seed artfully placed, every shred of lettuce poking out just so. It’s trying so hard for you to love it, to want it, that it becomes suspect.
Last week Coldplay released two tracks from their upcoming album, Ghost Stories, set to release May 19th. Maybe it’s the fact that the opening of “Magic” reminds me of the guttural beginnings of Radiohead’s “Lotus Flower,” which if you can come anything close to the perfect apocalyptic darkness that it so perfectly embodies, that crazed helplessness of love, you’re going to win me over, at least a little.
Am I sold? I don’t know. They’re trying to get back to something, finding inspiration from artist that haven’t let the art get away from them.
Sadness is always a start.