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Wednesday November 15, 2000

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Coldplay - Parachutes

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By Ian Caruth

Grade: B-

Simple, sincere pop songs are probably the most frightening things in the world to any self-respecting band. Irony in its myriad forms provides an oh-so-90s refuge from the big scary world of emotional exposure, with the added bonus of letting the ironist feel superior to the poor suckers who bare their souls when they write.

The problem with overly ironic bands is that, much like overly ironic people, they start to sound like total assholes after awhile.

British bands, with very few exceptions, have always been able to pull off sincerity better than their American counterparts - maybe it is those adorable accents. Travis, the Verve and others have found great success purveying a heart-on-the-sleeve vein of pop that is sophisticated and sincere without being na•ve in the way that American bands too often fall into.

Coldplay is another achingly sincere British band - on "We Never Change" from the band's debut LP Parachutes, singer Chris Martin even wails "I want to fly/ and never come down/ and live my life / and have friends around." The plaintive, please-somebody-love-me sentiments in the lyrics, Martin's soaring vocals and the band's melancholic arrangements recall Travis, which is not an entirely bad thing.

But Coldplay may recall Travis a little too much. Martin sings like the love child of folkie Jeff Buckley and Travis' Fran Healey, but does not quite have the breathtaking vocal chops of the former or the personality of the latter. The band's arrangements, too, start to sound like slightly watered-down versions of songs off Travis' The Man Who or Radiohead's The Bends. While diluted versions of those songs are still better than the vast majority of contemporary pop, the album still sounds a little too derivative, the work of a young band still finding its own voice.