REVIEW: Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto
I understand the half-and-half policy behind Coldplay where half of the listeners strongly dislike their brand of music and the other half are die-hard fans. I fall closer to the latter category but before you can say ‘storm of controversy’, my goal is to explain why I like Mylo Xyloto, their fifth album, as much as I do (and I kind of really do). If you’re one of those anti-Coldplay readers, rest assured, you shouldn’t be wasting your time reading reviews of them anyways…unless you’re actually curious as to what you’re missing.
When the Every Teardrop is a Waterfall EP was released a couple of months ago I praised the title song and “Major Minus”, the latter of which I was shocked was not a regular single. Imagine my delight to see it appeared on the new album nonetheless– and you know what? It’s not even my favourite song. The album is loaded with new ‘classics’ for the band; songs come concert-ready; songs have that Coldplay quality to them.
My one concern with the album before its release was lead singer Chris Martin‘s claim that they wanted an album for more intimate venues. The album is far from simply intimate. Right off the bat when the title instrumental, “Mylo Xyloto”, leads into the hard-hitting “Hurts Like Heaven” (arguably one of Coldplay’s strongest songs to date) the album strikes gold. Immediately, the disc proves itself to be what fans have waited for for the past three years since Viva La Vida (or Death and All his Friends).
The first single, “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall”, makes is appearance halfway through the album followed by (as I noted) “Major Minus”; both are stellar. The second single, “Paradise”, is by and large the greatest crowd-pleaser of the disc. When the band hits the stage in their elephant costumes (a la the new music video) and shouts “PARA-PARA-PARADISE”, there’s no doubt in my mind that the single will be a hit. And that line epitomizes the beauty of the album which, in an amazing way, resonates. What so many bands lack these days is that non-hollow echo. I don’t know if it’s Brian Eno’s doing with his ‘enoxification’ techniques (whatever the heck it is…I guess it’s the vocal warble) but it doesn’t really matter– “Mylo Xyloto” is the album I want to listen to at full-blast in an empty hall or an empty street. It’s an album that begs for space to fill.
Likely to be the third single would be “Princess of China”, a song co-performed by Rihanna who, in her own way, is popular right now. Their duet is evenly matched throughout the song. They compliment each other really well in the unique track; neither is underused and you never really get the feeling of a tacky collaboration. Other songs, like “Charlie Brown” sound wonderful, especially framed by the other songs on the album. Everything on the disc, in its order, creates a beautiful story and a strong synergy. Chris Martin claimed the album would follow the story of Mylo and Xyloto in a graffiti-inspired world; it gets across perfectly.
When Viva La Vida was released the album seemed so down-to-earth and it was such a departure from the earlier X & Y that it was hard to tell what Coldplay would do next. I consider Mylo Xyloto an apt combination of the band’s best qualities. The old-style instruments and messages of the pseudo-earthy Viva La Vida combines with the spaciness of the third album to create not only a graffiti world, but a mosaic of flashing lights, awe-inspiring colour, and a sense of breaking free. The world of Mylo Xyloto seems to close in on you (kind of like Japan’s influence in the Black Eyed Peas’ The Beginning) but as a listener it’s wondrous, not overbearing.
The disc lets up towards the end. After “Princess of China” we slow down for “Up in Flames”, return with longing for “Don’t Let It Break Your Heart”, and end on a sombre note for “Up With the Birds”. By this point, however, a breather is justified. The album is dense up to this point and overdoing it would make the album overstay its welcome. Luckily it never does.
So that’s that. Bias or not, I feel like I can justify why the album is still nothing short of amazing. If you like Coldplay, the album should be a list-topper. It’s not the cherry on the Coldplay cake (heck, nothing ever will be) but Mylo Xyloto may grow to be one of the strongest albums in their catalogue. You’d be a fool not to give it a listen.
As for the rest of you– those of you who don’t like Coldplay– why are you still reading? You’re certainly not going to like the score.