Dusting themselves off from the success of the whirlwind tour that followed their second album, 2002’s A Rush Of Blood To The Head, Coldplay decided to take a break, but quickly began to feel a sense of trepidation about their next move. “After the last album was finished,” Chris Martin said at the time of the release of their eventual follow-up, X&Y, “I went through about three months of thinking there wouldn’t be another album.”
Listen to ‘X&Y’ here.
With Coldplay’s status among the best 2000s musician relatively secure, they had little reason to feel apprehensive. However, despite X&Y being considered one of Coldplay’s best albums, Martin has said it emerged from “a really difficult two years” signified by nearly 30 abandoned songs and mired in personal troubles and release delays.
The media glare might have been a factor in this. Not only had Coldplay acquired fame and adulation in equal measure, but frontman Chris Martin had become a bona fide tabloid celebrity following his marriage to actress Gwyneth Paltrow in December 2003. With the eyes of the world on them, everything was riding on Coldplay to unlock the puzzle of their third album and truly define their sound.
“X and Y is the mathematical formula used when you don’t know the answer”
With production by Danton Supple, the man who had mixed A Rush Of Blood To The Head, the group’s new songs cracked the code by heading in a more electronic direction, influenced as much by Brian Eno’s ambient soundtracks as they were by U2’s sonic sweep. “A lot of the songs are about love and loss or they’re about the great things in the world versus the terrible things in the world,” Martin said.