Review Summary: A disappointingly and surprisingly safe effort from the world's nicest rock band
Mylo Xyloto paints a portrait of a band who don't quite know what they want to do. Coldplay are back with their follow-up to the great Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends and despite the hype and promise and the mystery, we were all blinded by smoke and mirrors. There's nothing special going on here I'm afraid. The band produce a mish-mash of an album; roughly half of the material is electro-pop chart music and the other half is a heavy handed attempt at recreating the acoustic stylings of debut album Parachutes. For the former, the pop stuff on here, it's a very mixed bag indeed.
On one hand we have lead single Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall, which a fair pop song, but it never really takes off or goes anywhere interesting. You've heard this song already no doubt; like all Coldplay singles it has been inescapable on the radio and television. Paradise is the other single from Mylo Xyloto and it's much better than Every Teardrop. It has a huge chorus, a sweeping baroque backing track and fantastic vocal melody. It is one of the album's highlights. In fact the two other hightlights of the album are both two other of the album's pop songs - they both also come very early on in the album, coming either side of Paradise. These songs are Hurts Like Heaven and Charlie Brown. Hurts Like Heaven is an 80s new wave-esque delight, with an infectious chorus and some great guitar work from Jonny Buckland. It's also quite fast-paced an energetic, a rarity with Coldplay songs. It very much deserves to be one of the singles to be lifted from this record. Charlie Brown, on the other hand, is absolutely fantastic - one of the bands all time best tracks. A classic Coldplay riff kicks in, a shout-along chant comes into play and it has the usual, easy to remember verses that any Coldplay classic has. It has the baroque feel of Viva la Vida, yet has a chime as memorale as Clocks' cascading pianos, melded with the energy of the underrated Life in Technicolour II. It should rightfully become a huge live anthem and the album's biggest hit.
One of the album's biggest talking points has got to be Princess of China, the much-anticipated song which was mentioned over a year ago in an interview with frontman Chris Martin. It was also announced not long before the album's release that pop singer Rihanna would feature in the singer, which confused many and bewildered people's expectations for the song. It works, surprisngly, to an extent. Although it feels more like a Rihanna song featuring Coldplay than vice versa. It could be the biggest hit from Mylo Xyloto, but musically it's nothing special. It has a fair vocal melody between the two and Rihanna is on form here, plus it has a nice intro with pulsating synth and echoing guitars, but overall it doesn't do enough to make it an album highlight. The other two electornic/pop based songs on here are Up in Flames and Don't Let It Break Your Heart. Up in Flames is perhaps the laziest song on here and one of Coldplay's most boring songs. The same melody is repeated for the entire duration of the song - the same, tedious, repetitive melody. It does not progress, this is filler in its very definition, ladies and gentlemen. Don't Let It Break Your Heart on the other hand, as the glimpse of a great song, but never lives up to its potential. It sounds rather unfinished and thrown together somewhat. It relies more on bombast than genuine emotion, something which the band wisely avoid most of the time.
The other half of Mylo Xyloto relies on more acoustic or ballad-type songs. In particular, we have Major Minus, which is a dark and edgy acoustic rocker, harking back to the bouncy God Put a Smile Upon Your Face all the way back from their 2002 album A Rush of Blood to the Head. But that's about as good as these kind of songs get on here. The ballad Us Against the World is boring as can be, with a bland and predictable melody and flat sound. It's not particularly bad, but it's not very good either. The same can be said for U.F.O., the other mainly acoustic track on here. Both songs sound phoned-in, like Coldplay are on auto-pilot, just throwing them out there in an attempt to appeal to fans of their earlier stuff. Up with the Birds is a forgettable Elbow-esque finale to all of this, building up to nothing and leaving no impression on the listener once it's come to a conclusion. Coldplay entered the studio to record Mylo Xyloto as the biggest band in the world. After four 10million selling albums in a row and countless hit singles, they had the keys to the kingdom and could do whatever they wanted. After all the hype, all the money, all the advertising, they have returned with a medicore pop rock album with mild flourishes of dance pop and acoustic rock. After the striking re-invention of prior album Viva la Vida, Mylo Xyloto cannot help but pale in comparison, not only in terms of musicianship, but also in terms of songwriting and willingness to try new ideas. A couple of sounds new to Coldplay are explored - such as the aforementioned electronic influences, but it's simply not good enough. It isn't daring and the new elements added to their formula are slight. It would be interesting to see if they decide to expand upon this sound, but seeing as they decided not to evolve the sound established on Viva la Vida, there's no reason to expect they will expand the song on this record either.
Hurts Like Heaven
I gave up on Coldplay after Rush of Blood to the Head... I miss their more natural, minor key oriented, acoustic stuff. I know they can't really go back to that, strictly speaking, but I wish they'd stop trying to go into the electro-pop direction and stick to the more alternative bent they had for their first few albums.
That being said, I think this album is good. I don't like it, but you have to acknowledge that it's better than tons of stuff out there, and it actually contains musical talent, unlike a great deal of mainstream acts.
Here are some criticisms that you might want to take note of, though:
i.) Italics are done by doing [i ] insert phrase here [/i ] but without the spaces. Use them for album titles. In the same vein, use inverted commas to indicate song titles. This makes the review less messy and easier to read/follow.
ii.) Speaking of the review, something quite...shall I say, interesting jumped out at me: there appear too many instances of the word "it". E.g: t has a huge chorus, a sweeping baroque backing track and fantastic vocal melody. It is one of the album's highlights. This makes for pretty jarring reading as I keep finding myself reading off a sentence that sounds pretty similar to the one I read two seconds ago.
Now, I recognize that you are trying to refer to individual songs or the album in using those words; here's a tip - use phrases like "This song", or "The aforementioned number" instead. Be creative; try and make your review flow as well as possible, and you'll be surprised how much better everything seems to sound.
Aids is right, that's what I meant with the summary. Thanks for the input Irving. Also how is it a piss poor comment asaf? That's how I feel when I listen to this album. It doesn't seem like Coldplay know exactly what they want to do, hence the unfocused mixture of acoustic and electronic music.
I'm planning on reviewing all four prior Coldplay albums at some point.
I watched a Dillinger Escape Plan interview recently where they openly mocked the interviewer and started fixing themselves alcoholic drinks while she was talking and then one of them literally takes his iphone and they started interviewing her.
ugh... radio rock... bleh! i have only heard the single "every teardrop is a waterfall" and they just sound like they don't care for the music as much any more as they did on parachutes. well looks like we have got ourselfs another average arena rock band. except nicer.