Review Summary: Mylo Xyloto brings Coldplay to a wonderfully bombastic, and colorful, new direction.
Sometime in the middle of the year 2000, a humble new British band named Coldplay released their debut full length LP entitled Parachutes. The album released to exceptional sales and received universal critical acclaim, most notably for the single “Yellow”. However, some critics accused Coldplay of stealing the musical style of big-time band U2 and the lead singer Chris Martin mimicking the high vocals of Radiohead. These acclaims have haunted the band throughout the years, even after four massively successful album releases. Then, sometime after the release of their famous “Viva La Vida”, Coldplay realized they needed a true identity; one to separate them from the rest of the pack. That train of thought led to the creation of their newest album, “Mylo Xyloto”. This is essentially Coldplay finding a true direction, and a real sound.
After the calming short intro of the title track, Mylo Xyloto begins with the shockingly upbeat instruments of “Hurts Like Heaven”, with Chris bellowing shamelessly cheesy lyrics such as “You use your heart as a weapon and it hurts like heaven” and “Yes, I feel nervous and I cannot relax”. These lyrics imply that while Coldplay is comfortable with their new sound, they are unsure of how their audience will respond to the new direction. Yet from the way the rest of the album sounds, it seems as though they stopped caring and just decided to finally have fun.
The next song, “Paradise”, is also one of two singles released before the album. With the catchy chorus and heavy sound, it is understandable that this song may be considered the “Violet Hill” of the album. This is a really great song, one that has gotten rather popular over time. However, this is overshadowed by the next song, which also happens to be my personal favorite, “Charlie Brown”. The song starts with a sort of wailing that seems as though it could be heard around the globe, then quickly turns into a heavy-hitting beat with drums and guitars slamming as Chris hums to the music. With a few small breaks in the middle for buildup, the song finally ends with a small piano solo to serve as an outro; a brilliant moment for the album.
As the song “M.M.I.X” comes around, we have hit the mid-way point: “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall”. This song was the first single to be released from the album, and has become the most popular one at that. “Teardrop” was the first indication that Coldplay has succumbed to their pop side, while still having a rocking core. The lyrics are mostly made up of terrible metaphors such as “I’d rather be a comma than a full stop” that, while they can make one flinch, do have a strangely likable center.
After “Teardop” is, strangely, “Major Minus”. “Major Minus” actually appeared on the “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” EP as a B-Side, which makes it surprising that it would appear on the actual album. The song starts with a catchy acoustic riff and a distorted Chris singing “They’ve one eye watching you” for a while, then the rest of the band comes in. This isn’t one of the best songs off the album, but it is a decent, uplifting song.
After the pleasant interlude provided by the short-yet-sweet acoustic “U.F.O.”, the album enters its second half with “Princess of China”. With an electronic backdrop and a much commented on guest appearance by Rihanna, the song has split Coldplay fans in half. Some complained, saying that this is Coldplay turning too mainstream, while others said that the song’s beats and structure made good use of Rihanna’s vocals. Personally it’s not one of my favorite songs off the album, but it is a great song and marks a key point in Coldplay’s career.
The album then starts to hint at its end with “Up in Flames”. With a simple, slow beat, piano, and lyrics such as “So, it’s over. This time you’re flying on, this time I know no song”, this is probably one of the saddest songs here. After a couple quiet minutes, the guitars come in to show a small sign of life, as well as leading into “A Hopeful Transmission”, the last break before the end.
“Don’t Let It Break Your Heart”, the penultimate track, begins much like “Charlie Brown”, only that it skips the whole whaling and just gets straight to the banging. The entire song has a world-is-ending feel, and directly flows into the ending song, “Up With The Birds”. This song shares a fair amount off of “Up in Flames”, showing similarities in title and in the overall feel. That is, until the second half. After a brief mid-song interlude with synths and awkward breathing, the song suddenly pumps up in energy and becomes a song that relates more to “Major Minus” than with “Up in Flames”. The song is a fitting end that shows both spectrums of the album and creates a third spectrum within itself, one that says “This is the new Coldplay. Deal with it.”