How Coldplay Became Possibly the First Band to Be Humanized by a Concept Album

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 24: Will Champion, Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland of Coldplay perform at Piedmont Park on September 24, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Chris McKay/WireImage) Photo: Chris McKay/2011 Chris McKay

The band Coldplay has spent its career practicing one mood, over and over, and getting very good at conjuring it. The mood in question involves heroic uplift, or possibly hearts full to bursting with vague positive emotion. There's something a bit triumphalist or even militaristic about it — recall the drum-banging and uniforms of "Viva la Vida," or the band's rather bizarre and ongoing interest in revolutionaries. One tends to imagine some kind of parade where people throw thousands of flowers and miles of ticker tape out of apartment windows at soldiers returning victoriously from a confrontation that wasn't all that violent. The sound is equal parts pomp and tenderness. It feels a bit stirring, but in the end it's mostly comforting; the band has managed to combine two things that should be at cross purposes.

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