Album Review: Coldplay, “Parachutes” (2000)

If you remember my last review of a Coldplay album, you’ll note that it wasn’t exactly favorable. While A Rush Of Blood To The Head was an okay album, I found most of it dull and uninspired. I’ll admit the album has grown on me since that review (though I still hold to my three star rating), and since then I’ve started to call myself a bit of a Coldplay fan. It seemed obvious that I go back and purchase their first album, Parachutes, and I was pleasantly surprised with how much I like it.
The album, released in 2000, is almost flawless. Chris Martin (the lead singer, guitarist, and pianist) sounds wonderful on each track, and there’s plenty of lush production and piano-heavy tracks. The songs are all extremely well written (each track was written by the entire band, which consists of Jonny Buckland, Will Champion, and Guy Berryman), and I’ve listened to this CD non-stop despite buying it three weeks ago.

The album begins with Don’t Panic, a song I first heard on the Garden State soundtrack. The song begins quietly with guitar, but the tempo picks up before the first verse, and various electronic sounds and synthesizers are added, giving the track a sort of futuristic feeling. The catchy melody, paired with the slightly cynical refrain of “We live in a beautiful world” makes the song a great opener for the album.

Shiver begins with light piano before fading into heavy electric guitar and drums. This is probably one of my favorites on the album; another wonderful melody makes it impossible to forget, and when Martin brings out his trademark falsetto during the chorus, he sounds great. The lyrics about unrequited love are somehow fresh and romantic despite the clichéd topic (“From the moment I wake/To the moment I sleep/I’ll be there by your side/Just you try and stop me/I’ll be waiting in the line/Just to see if you care”). Spies follows, and sounds quite pretty with a mellow acoustic guitar melody. Though the lyrics are a bit dreamy and vague (“I awake to see that no one is free/We’re all fugitives/Look at the way we live/Down here, I cannot sleep from fear no/I said, which way do I turn?/Oh I forget everything I learn”), they still work well, especially paired with Martin’s vocals, which I find more and more pleasing to listen to with each song.

The song that gets credit for turning me on to Coldplay is Trouble (no, I actually hated Yellow when it was released, but more on that song later). The song begins with gorgeous piano that plays throughout the melody, and has a sort of simplistic charm to it that I’ve always loved. From the basic tune to the smooth lyrics (“I never meant to cause you trouble/And I never meant to do you wrong,/And I, well if I ever caused you trouble/Oh no, I never meant to do you harm”), the song has always been one of my favorites. Likewise, High Speed keeps the tempo up with a nice drum loop and guitar. The song doesn’t prove to be one of my favorites, yet it’s still a nice track. Champion makes himself known with the drumming here, and even bass guitarist Berryman manages to stand out.

When the band isn’t rocking out, it seems as though they’re writing a love letter. Anyone that reads my reviews may have picked up the fact that I’m a sappy, self-proclaimed hopeless romantic, and this album definitely appeals to that side of me. The aforementioned Shiver is just one of the more sentimental tracks on the album; in addition Sparks and Yellow also make me want to fall in love. The first of the two is a song that I’ve favored since last year when a friend burned it onto a mix-CD for me. He thought I’d love it and he was right; the relaxing guitar and smooth vocals are a delight musically, but the lyrics are the real treat. This time around, Martin proves his undying love to his special someone (whomever came before Gwyneth Paltrow, I suppose) and any woman would gush over lines like “But I promise you this/I’ll always look out for you/That’s what I’ll do…/My heart is yours/It’s you that I hold on to you/That’s what I’ll do”.

Coldplay performs for Nissan Live Sets 1

Yellow, as I mentioned earlier, wasn’t one of my favorites when it was a single. The song was the band’s first big hit, and it suffered greatly from overexposure (every time I turned on MTV or VH1 there it was!). Now, seven years later, I’ve tried to remove myself from those memories, and I’ve discovered an incredibly heartfelt song that doesn’t annoy me at all. Again, the lyrics (“Look at the stars/Look how they shine for you/And everything you do/Yeah, they were all yellow”) make me smile and listening to this music definitely makes me want to find someone to cuddle up with 🙂

Even the 46-second title track is a hit in my book (and I usually hate interludes- but I’ve listened to this one 18 times already!). Hushed guitar and vocals accompany the sweet lines (“In a haze, a storm haze/I’ll be round I’ll be loving you always/Always…/Here I am and I’ll take my time/Here I am and I’ll wait in the line always/Always…”). It seems as though Coldplay can do no wrong on this album.

The disc comes to a close with We Never Change and Everything’s Not Lost. The first of the two is a slow ballad, which has an effect on me similar to that of Amsterdam (a song from Rush); though the lyrics are again well written (“We never change do we?/No, no/We never learn do we?…/Oh and I don’t have a soul to save/Yes and I sin every single day”), the melody is so soothing and relaxing to listen to that the words just seem to disappear. Martin again sounds absolutely beautiful, and I can honestly never get tired of hearing his voice.

Everything’s Not Lost is another one of my favorites on the album (actually, there’s no purpose in pointing out favorites when I love every song!), and starts off slowly before building during the chorus with louder piano and keyboards. This song is probably the most similar to some of Coldplay’s recent stuff (it sounds a bit like some of the songs released from X&Y). Again, the lyrics are such a treat (“When I’m counting up my demons/Saw there was one for every day/With the good ones on my shoulders/I drove the other ones away”), and the song ends with a catchy refrain that provides a perfect end for a perfect album (the song also includes Life Is For Living, a strange, albeit pretty, “hidden” track).

I’m truly surprised by how much I’ve enjoyed Parachutes. Though I had already decided I was a fan of Coldplay’s before buying this release, listening to this album has just solidified my appreciation of their music. The album is a collection of wonderfully sung, written and performed songs, and is masterfully done.

Rating: 5 stars

Track Listing
1. Don’t Panic
2. Shiver
3. Spies
4. Sparks
5. Yellow
6. Trouble
7. Parachutes
8. High Speed
9. We Never Change
10. Everything’s Not Lost

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKNxeF4KMsY]
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