The Raveonettes -- Pretty in Black ** The time for '50s rock was the '50s; '60s rock was good in, well, the '60s. These days, trying to make music that sounds like something from the past seems like a cop-out. It's a cheap rip-off of artists who are probably dead -- and that's exactly what the Raveonettes do on their newest album.
The Danish boy-girl duo, better known for their fashion mag spreads and hipster habits than talent, does a bang-up job of making music that sounds old. (The only thing missing is the authentic crackle of a vintage LP.) But that's the problem: Why would I want to listen to music that sounds old, when I could just pop on an old Buddy Holly or Velvet Underground record? Truth is, I wouldn't.
Sune Rose Wagner is shameless in mimicking everyone from Elvis to Bob Dylan, and Sharin Foo's vocals are wispy and unimpressive. The album tanks on the painfully repetitive "Somewhere in Texas," topping out at six lyrically transparent lines in nearly five minutes. -- Leah Sottile
Coldplay -- X & amp;Y ****
Despite being one of the better bands to emerge in recent years, there's a big Coldplay backlash afoot. A lot of people think they're too overblown -- and how dare they attempt to be as cool as U2? Sometimes I'm just as quick to hate bands for being too successful, but I don't think these guys deserve the rap. This is a great album.
The brains behind the band, Chris Martin (aka Mr. Gwyneth Paltrow), is better than ever, but you've got to wonder what he's so depressed about. The lyrics are almost uniformly dark, but melancholy is an emotion that fits pretty well here in 2005.
Coldplay is famous for massive, almost Pink Floyd-esque synthetic productions, and you get the big sound on X & amp;Y. They can also hit the occasional pop nerve, as they do on "The Hardest Part." But I like the raw side of this band, on "A Message" (hey, an acoustic guitar!), and especially on the hidden track, "Kingdom Come." Maybe that's where they can go on their next album and the critics will give 'em a break. -- Ted S. McGregor Jr.