Upon first listen: amiable and ambitious, a step in the right direction after the overcooked banalities of 2005's X&Y—which, still, had its share of keepers ("Fix You," "Till Kingdom Come," "Low"). Upon second listen: well-produced wallpaper courtesy Brian Eno, who can and will make every band with whom he works sound like U2 (although it helps when the band in question already thought it was U2—the wimpy, slow-dance, makeout-Muzak U2, but still). Upon third listen: Really, why a third listen? (Life's short. And "Cemeteries of London," at just more than three minutes, is still too long.) Upon fourth listen: Wait, maybe this is Coldplay's Beatles record ("Yes"). No, wait—that's Dire Straits, right ("Violet Hill")? Aw, jeez—Radiohead and Arcade Fire ("42").

Upon fifth listen: "Lovers in Japan," all "sweeping" and "epic" and shit, might be a good song to listen to during a long pre-dawn drive—windows down, volume up. And does Coldplay just make records now to license their songs for soundtracks? (And iPod ads, a given.) Upon sixth listen: Where's my copy of A Rush of Blood to the Head? Upon seventh listen: Not kidding, where did I put that goddamned thing? Right—don't panic. Upon eighth listen: Chris Martin is deep. And, also, a touch depressed—no idea why. Upon ninth listen: Amiable and ambitious, a step in the right direction. Also, when did "Cemeteries of London" get so bloody awesome? Best to stop whilst ahead.

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