The third and latest disc from the English band continues the evolution in their levitating, sweeping rock. Though the band continues to wear their influences on their sleeve in no small amount, Coldplay injects enough freshness into their sound, and also holds true to their spark of excitement promised from their very first release five long years ago.

The crush of expectations upon X&Y was nothing short of staggering. Fans were salivating earlier this year awaiting the end of the three-year drought since the last studio album, 2002's A Rush of Blood to the Head, a period during which only one new song surfaced from the band's a 2003 live album. In fact, after starting off the year announcing that the album's release was going to be delayed by several months, Coldplay's record company was forced to issue a profit warning leading to a sharp stock dip.

The pressure of which doesn't seem to have affected the creative outcome, however. X&Y is a coherent record, from the driving guitar of the appropriately-titled lead-off track "Square One" to the final hidden track originally written for Johnny Cash to record.

This album is not generally very lyrically-focused. Frontman Chris Martin's words are frequently sung in falsetto, and often sound chosen to set an almost psychedelic mood, as in the line from "Square One," "The future's for discovering, a space in which we're traveling." Other lyrics feature a somewhat facile plaintiveness like in the anthemic "Fix You," which majestically chants "Tears stream down your face, when you lose something you cannot replace."

But the music more than compensates. Perpetually reaching towards a combination of the soaring choruses and explosive guitar riffing of U2 with the enticingly pregnant landscapes of Radiohead, Coldplay cobbles together an exciting yet thoughtful rock 'n' roll. Songs like "Speed of Sound" or "Talk" showcase the the band's penchant for crafting an epic superstructure surrounding an intimate and personal core.

Mike Sauter, WYEP Music Director