[1 September 2009]
Perhaps you’ve noticed: Coldplay is a very popular band. Barcelona has certainly noticed. Though the piano-rock outfit has forever doomed itself to awkward concert introductions (“We’re called Barcelona; we’re from Seattle.”), the band’s chosen urban namesake is a tight match for its sensitive, sophisticated swoon-rock. A bit more in the way of heady Catalonian flair would be nice, but singer/keyboardist Brian Fennell and his mates summon ethereal beauty with a sort of predictable effortlessness on Absolutes, a re-jigged major-label release of its 2007 indie debut. The predictability occasionally gives way to potent dynamics, as exemplified on “Lesser Things”, “The Takers”, and “First Floor People”. This is to say that there’s some strong songwriting beneath the starry-eyed surface. It’s no reinvention of any wheel, but should you go in expecting minor variations on “Clocks”, and you’ll come away pleasantly surprised.