The Coldplay CD is good. The reviewers are the insufferable ones.
Coldplay released its third album last month. You may have heard about it.
You may have heard so much about it, in fact, that you may feel you don't need to (or want to) hear the actual album--particularly if you read or heard about some of the high-profile pans the CD has picked up along the way, most notably in the New York Times.
The short lesson to be learned is, of course, don't believe everything you read. I am a knowledgeable and discerning music fan and to my ears, X&Y is a rich, satisfying collection of songs that manage to resonate far beyond their simple surfaces might suggest. I don't hear a weak tune on the disc, and more than a few--including "Talk," "White Shadows," "X&Y," and "The Hardest Part"--are memorably wonderful.
The longer lesson has to do with the fact that we have been muddling through a cultural age, for a couple of decades now, in which anything popular is mistrusted by a certain community of cultural commentators simply because it is popular. And so after the huge and largely unanticipated success of the band's previous CD, A Rush of Blood to the Head, Coldplay was doomed--the hipsters could no longer find them hip and therefore X&Y was going to be labeled a failure no matter what.
In other words, had the band issued an experimental excursion (very unlikely, as that's not Coldplay's style), I can readily imagine how they would have been savaged as trying to be something they aren't; "Stick to your knitting!" they would have been scolded. Instead they stuck to their knitting and (wouldn't you know) they've been told how they sound too much the same.
The underlying problem is that bands in Coldplay's position basically stop being listened to. Reviewing X&Y, a few too many writers seemed happy enough to write about their own preconceived notions, unrecognized psychological dramas, and pet peeves rather than the notes and sounds on the CD.
No, the new CD is not a musical breakthrough; it does sound generally (but not slavishly) similar to the last album (although I think it's better). And no, it's not necessarily a classic for all time, although classic status is typically difficult to determine until a few years have gone by at least. But being neither wildly different nor an all-time classic is no reason for the CD to be attacked, even ridiculed, particularly as it was in The New York Times, where the reviewer deemed Chris Martin and company "the most insufferable band of the decade."