Songs like "Square One" and "Speed of Sound" start small but quickly grow to enormous size, thanks to fully engorged production and anthemic choruses that embrace melodramatic gestures beloved by the masses. Even the melody of Kraftwerk's ironically distanced "Computer Love" is transformed into arena fare via the rousing "Talk." And while the title cut initially recalls the wimpiness of old, it eventually builds to a crescendo designed to inspire fans by the millions to sway in the light of their glowing cell phones.
At times, Coldplay's populist gestures feel overly blatant, but there's no denying their effectiveness. Celebrity watchers who know Martin only as Mr. Paltrow, Apple's daddy, will have to adjust their thinking. He may not be yellow, but his star is on the rise.