Picks and Pans Review: A Rush of Blood to the Head

updated 09/09/2002 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/09/2002 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Coldplay (Capitol)

Fame is treating Coldplay well: gigs opening for U2, celebrity fans like Gwyneth Paltrow and a Grammy for best alternative music album for the Brit quartet's shimmering 2000 debut, Parachutes. Luckily, as this textured, understated follow-up demonstrates, success doesn't seem to have gone to the heads of former University College London chums Chris Martin, Will Champion, Guy Berryman and Jonny Buckland.

Toning down the Radiohead-iness, Coldplay creates moments of absolute poetry on Rush, blending moody guitars and bass, subtle percussion and emphatic keyboards on tightly wrought dissections of political and personal disasters. "I'm going to buy a gun and start a war/ If you can tell me something worth fighting for," front-man Martin declares on the rueful title track. Elsewhere, on the heartbreaking, piano-driven ballad "The Scientist," Martin grieves for a lost love in his most mournful tenor: "Tell me you love me/ Come back and haunt me/ Oh and I rush to the start." His pain is pure listening pleasure.

Bottom Line: No sophomore slump for these lads

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