Some records are historical for their unique sound, and some are just important to the society for the time. Coldplay’s A Rush of Blood to the Head falls into both categories. With the horrendous 9/11 attacks still fresh in the minds of everyone, the American people were looking for anything to get the terrible tragedy off of their minds.
Enter in the revolutionary English rock band lead by Chris Martin to help relieve people from grief. With a perfect blend of love ballads, anthems, and memorable instrumentals, it’s safe to say that Coldplay avoided the so-called “sophomore slump” with their second album.
The sense of urgency to create this record was evident through the production style and songwriting. Martin said it himself in an interview that although the band didn’t exactly know how to approach this project, they still knew that a hopeful tone would be their backbone.
Coldplay has shown throughout their discography how stunning but subtle music can be, while being just as impactful. You wouldn’t think that a band from Britain could make a political statement about America without sounding uneducated, but Coldplay found that balance on A Rush of Blood to the Head of saying something significant while making it a fantastic listen as well.
By using the first official single on the record “In My Place” as a stepping stone for the rest of the tracks, Martin figured out what direction him and his bandmates wanted to go. The song “Politik” is where we really got a sense of the different underlying themes riddled throughout the album. Martin solidified himself as an important voice in the music industry right off of the bat with this track, and he wasn’t afraid of challenging the state of our world following 9/11.
While it seems like a bold topic to analyze, Martin backs that idea up with self-awareness on “God Put a Smile Upon Your Face.” With a catchy guitar riff that sounds like something off of Radiohead’s Pablo Honey, the band seemed to be telling people not to take anything for granted because you never know when death may strike. Just based off of the lyrics (And ah, when you work out where to draw the line/your guess is as good as mine), much like everyone else, Coldplay has no clue what happens when you die. At the time, this was a horrifying subject that we had to question amidst tragedy.
What really made this record stand out from most rock albums of our generation was, how slight of a change in direction this project took. We went from politically charged ballads, to these beautiful classics in “The Scientist,” and “Clocks.” Martin develops this brilliant concept where he discusses the importance of time and understanding when it comes to love, but it intertwines with the previous ideas about death and our world troubles in such a cohesive manner. “Clocks” especially has lived on to be one of the greatest alternative tracks of the 2000s because of it’s memorable piano riff (which has been sampled a number of times) and it’s intelligent lyrics.
Martin’s appreciation of love continued on “Daylight,” and although this wasn’t as enduring as “The Scientist,” it’s still a gorgeously produced and mixed track showcasing Coldplay’s arsenal when it comes to the instrumentals. While “Daylight” contained one of the grander guitar solos on the entire record, the next track “Green Eyes” gave listeners a breather to reminisce about the good times. A touching country/rock vibe that Bon Iver was definitely inspired by on For Emma, Forever Ago, “Green Eyes” took people on this picturesque journey of a wanted love in one’s life that continues to give them to drive to live day after day. This song was for sure the epitome of the overall message of the entire album, where positivity and affection trumps all.
Martin also doesn’t shy away from going back to their vintage sound that helped Coldplay get heard on Parachutes. “Warning Sign,” the eighth song on the record is a perfect representation of that. That idea is immediately thrown out the window however on “A Whisper” where the track becomes dizzying and daunting, and the lyrics found the band diving headfirst back into the importance of time and how it can be overwhelming for people.
Martin wraps up all of the different themes like a bowtie on the title track and the final track “Amsterdam,” where Coldplay made sure that there was going to be an end to this story. Martin and company did this though with the foreseeable future in mind.
If you were to look at this project as a whole, you would notice that the British band said some things that sure and hell needed to be said. This album will not only be known for it’s message on a struggling world, but it will also be known as an escape for people from the tragic events that occurred just a year prior to it’s release. We needed a voice in entertainment to help us, and Coldplay stepped up tot he plate and came up huge for our generation.