Clearly, trying to sum up in just a few words a long and turbulent process such as the making of this record would be unwise at best. It’s worth considering for a moment, though, one point Chris makes in his note, above. Although Phil Harvey – the secret 5th member he mentions – had made the break from managing the band some time previously in 2002 (just as the Rush of Blood recording was completed), this was the first – and indeed, to date the only – time the band had been through the creative process without Phil’s presence, influence and guidance.
I’ve spoken before about Phil’s unique position and the ability it gives him. He’s able to view Coldplay as both a band-member and as a fan and there is no other person in the world who can do this in the same way
He knows what the band are capable of and can achieve, without having emotional attachment to the music the way someone who has written or played it does. He also has no agenda whatsoever outside what is best for Coldplay.
As such his voice is critical. It also doesn’t hurt that making a voting panel out of an odd number people helps break deadlock. Doubtless, this has placed a lot of decision-making weight on Mr Havey’s shoulders, mind you!
Indeed, in the Live 2012 film, Will discusses exactly this topic. He talks not only of the number of times Phil has had the casting vote, but also cites Phil’s return as “The reason we’ve been getting better since 2005”.
Bringing it back to X&Y, I’ve always wondered whether the lines “oh brother I can’t I can’t get through, I’ve been trying hard to reach you, ‘cause I don’t know what to do” address this very thing.
I could be completely wrong, of course – it certainly wouldn’t be the first time…