Somebody should have warned Coldplay's Chris Martin about the uplifting perils of parenthood. Once one of Brit-pop's great introspective brooders, the new papa has apparently learned that there just isn't time anymore for mopey-dopey woes about society's inherent loneliness and related existential misery. Not when there's one diaper left and Target closes in 10 minutes.

On Coldplay's new "X&Y," one of the most anticipated albums of the year, Martin often comes off as relatively chipper and well-adjusted, at times sounding like a New Age self-help guru. This is great news for his family, of course, but may prove a bit frustrating for fans. Although it's easy to get lost in the epic lushness of "X&Y" -- this is a Coldplay album after all, and a fairly good one at that -- without Martin's emotional turbulence, it's just as easy to get bored with parts of it, too.

Of course, who can blame him for feeling all warm and gushy? Martin became a husband (to actress Gwyneth Paltrow) and a father (to daughter Apple) since the release of Coldplay's platinum 2002 album, "A Rush of Blood to the Head." That pretty piece of pained introspection -- featuring tingly smash "Clocks" and the devastating ballad "The Scientist" -- was a follow-up to the 2000 debut "Parachutes," which included the breakout hit "Yellow." All told, Martin's sad-sack shtick has helped moved more than 20 million albums.

On "X&Y," the band's third album, the piano-playing Martin and his mates -- guitarist Jonny Buckland, drummer Will Champion and bassist Guy Berryman -- excel again at music that sounds as if it were written at the foot of a majestic seaside cliff. After listening to "X&Y," a good friend dubbed Coldplay a "21st century Moody Blues," and he's dead-on about that. Both are lyrically obtuse masters of gauzy grandiosity: swells of synth, swirly piano work and buzzing guitars that wrap around your head in dizzying amounts. You could even compare Coldplay to a more recent pop powerhouse: The band can match U2's knack for dramatic tempo changes and rousing crescendos.

And while Martin may not share Bono's God complex, he definitely has a Deepak Chopra thing going on here. He's looking to soothe some souls -- and sometimes does. First single "Speed of Sound" is an exuberant life-is-grand hit featuring one of Martin's trademark piano hooks. The song is evidence that Coldplay -- which reportedly scrapped a first draft of "X&Y" -- can be musically adventurous and commercially viable at the same time. Let's hope fellow Brit-poppers Radiohead are listening, because that band's recent abstract wanderings are collecting dust on shelves everywhere.

On the slow-building "Square One," about finding your way through the universe (or something like that), Coldplay displays a keen sense of humor by not-so-subtly reinterpreting the "2001" theme "Also Sprach Zarathustra," with Martin's gymnastic falsetto climbing up up up to the heavens. The rousing song's gushy finale -- "Is there anybody out there who / Is lost and hurt and lonely too?" -- is gloriously cheesy.

Martin's new 'tude, however, also can get tiring. "Fix You" -- "Lights will guide you home . . . / And I will try to fix you" -- is a sprawling pep talk without the pep. It's obvious that Coldplay was aiming for an epic to end all epics; what it achieved was a Peter Gabriel B-side. "Swallowed in the Sea" is representative of the album's numbing second half: A pretty song about dealing with the loss of a loved one, it lacks any emotional oomph. A wicked guitar solo would have been nice, too.

Only on the incredibly sad "What If," a piano ballad that builds into a full orchestral lament, does Martin truly get in touch with his dormant dark side. The song is a powerhouse for sure -- the album's exceptional centerpiece -- as husband and father envisions life without his brood. "What if you were to decide / That you don't want me there by your side?" Apparently, nobody warned Martin about that sneaky part of family life, either. Because no matter how loud and terrifying late-night ear infections (and diaper changes and binky searches . . .) can be, they're not nearly as scary as the thought of Gwynnie and Apple leaving town, and life going back to the lonely way it was.

Coldplay, from left, Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Chris Martin, and Will Champion. The band's latest may show the effects of Martin's fatherhood.