When I played with Marie Haddad, we once covered "Politik", the opener to this sophomore effort. I liked our version...prettier and sparser than the original, to be sure. Listening to the album again, I was reminded why Coldplay was able to maintain their roll after Parachutes, but also reminded that there is a sound they refined and subsequently clung to that may be their undoing in the long run.
The reason Marie, a piano player, was able to cover "Politik" so well is because it is piano-driven, as are most of the songs on Coldplay's albums after Parachutes. Once the band was big enough to tour with a piano, singer Chris Martin-Paltrow never went back to guitar-centric tunes, in effect limiting Coldplay's sound because limits had been removed. Irony is so ironic.
Another change that would come back to haunt them was extending the length of all the songs. Eight of the Eleven are within seconds of five-minutes long, mostly longer than that. There is a reason they call it 'pop', and brevity is one of those reasons.
Of course, my tendency towards progressive and metal influences makes a five-minute song seem short, but I recognize the change Coldplay went through. They are a band that needs to have self-imposed limits. Their talent is abundant, and their fame overwhelming. They can do whatever they want now, and maybe that's the problem.
BTW, I do really like this album, but there aren't any standouts for me. It's telling that I had to look up the name of the CD even though I've been spinning it in my car the last couple of days.