If you tuned in to ABC over the holidays, you probably heard this young British quartet's song "Yellow" playing behind the network's seasonal prime-time promos. Since such appropriation is no longer deemed harmful to a band's image, the potential exposure for Coldplay's debut album easily outweighed the risks for an act poised to follow fellow U.K. darlings Travis and Radiohead into either beloved-cult or superstar status in the U.S.
A finalist for Britain's prestigious Mercury Music Prize in 2000, this dreamy collective expertly whips up a depressive, primordial Brit-pop soup redolent of U2, Oasis, and Gomez. Guitarist Jon Buckland, bassist Guy Berryman and drummer Will Champion expertly add velvety dashes of post-punk, acoustic folk, jazz-pop and blues, focusing the music's meandering magnetism through vocalist Chris Martin.
In such numbers as "Sparks" and "Trouble," Martin's weary tenor wavers fetchingly as he whispers his devotion in the deadpan-sweet manner of an aging English professor trying to bed his students (and succeeding). His style leaves room for interpretation, as on "Shiver," a confession of unrequited love that borders on creepy. The music's familiar components belie its confidently original twists, and the lyrical ambiguity doesn't diminish the songs' emotional impact. Coldplay headlines the Mayan Theatre on Feb. 14.
Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.