In 2002, the members of Coldplay were still in the midst of their ascent, riding the breakthrough success of their sleepy debut, which established wide-eyed vulnerability and earnestness as an indelible part of their image. Soft and soothing, the precious Parachutes set them up for a lifetime of inaccurate comparisons to Radiohead, even though the similarities started and ended with The Bends. And just like Radiohead, they quickly evolved into another beast altogether: plugging in the guitars, amplifying the bombast, tattooing their hearts on their sleeves, and shooting for the arena rafters in a fashion more similar to U2. Their sophomore effort, A Rush of Blood to the Head, made the message clear within the first seconds of the intense opener "Politik." As Will Champion's drums crash, Jonny Buckland's guitar swells, and Guy Berryman's bass churns, frontman Chris Martin bursts through the Wall of Sound, jolting listeners awake with the desperate cry, "Open up your eyes!" Angsty and urgent, songs like "Politik" and the title track introduced fresh elements into the Coldplay repertoire, expanding their emotional palette and showing critics that they could really rock when they wanted to. This was the sound of a new Coldplay, one that developed confidence, a voice, and a budding imagination to separate themselves from the Travises and Elbows of the world. The aggressive wallop of "God Put a Smile upon Your Face" -- a live staple and fan-favorite single -- typified the trademark sound of the era, combining Champion and Berryman's groove with Buckland's outer-space noodling, a style that they'd blast into the stratosphere on the follow-up effort, X&Y. Along with "Daylight" and "A Whisper," the track helped establish Coldplay as an arena rock presence, pulling them out of the indie-dwelling bedroom and onto the big stage. From that platform, Coldplay also delivered three of their most enduring and beloved singles: the sparkling "In My Place," the weepy ballad "The Scientist," and the piano-kissed showstopper "Clocks." With A Rush of Blood to the Head, Coldplay pulled back the curtains to reveal a robust and energized unit, one that would soon conquer the mainstream with a steady evolution into the world of pop. At this moment -- before issuing the two highest-selling albums in the world in 2005 and 2008 and becoming an international stadium sell-out presence -- Coldplay were coming to grips with their music's power and possibility, a young band hungry, bright-eyed, and primed for stardom.
A Rush of Blood to the Head Review
by Neil Z. Yeung