Review Summary: A HUGE step in the right direction for a band that, until this point, had nowhere to go.
Before 2012, if you had told me that I'd like Coldplay, I'd have laughed in your face. I'll admit that they were just downright boring to me before Viva La Vida
, and even that album had a few good ideas but didn't really go anywhere. But when I heard Viva La Vida
for the first time! I thought I was listening to a completely different band. Here, the band finally showed their potential and showed us that they aren't just that U2 ripoff band in a long line of stadium rock snore-inducers, and delivered some extremely catchy tunes. Now, of course, there are a few moments here where "classic" Coldplay can be found, but thankfully the album shows this band becoming great, finally breaking free of the ghetto they've been placed in, and living up to their full potential.
What's really great about Xyloto
is that it sounds "colourful", almost. Whereas their previous albums sounded mostly bleak and dreary, this album has a much-needed splash of colour to Coldplay's palette, showing growth and experimentation. It's evident right in the album's first few moments, namely the opening eponymous intro and the following catchy track "Hurts Like Heaven". True, the production in this album is a bit too "up-to-eleven" and at times it kind of seems like they seemed more interested in making the album "loud" instead of having a three-dimensional sound, the track nonetheless is very catchy and has quite a few good riffs, and some gorgeous vocal melodies. It and the previous intro bleed into each other perfectly, as if to form one song, and it thankfully sets the tone for the rest of the album in nan appropriate manner.
Of course the album has its share of ballads, such as the DEVASTATING piano-driven ballad "Up in Flames". Although Martin isn't a particularly good singer, few will argue that his rough and honest vocal performances are Coldplay, and here he is at his most emotional. His falsettos in the chorus and how he sounds tired and drained in the verses drive hime the very depressing lyrics- speaking of which, the album is a concept album based around an Orwell-style society that prohibits sound and colour, mind of course, it has a very tragic end. And whole the lyrics aren't great, they do suit the story and help make it a very emotional experience. Back on the topic of ballads, there's also the beautiful "Us Against the World", which showcases the Martin against just a guitar and some keyboards here and there, and of course, the gorgeous and dreary "Don't Let it Break Your Heart", which, contrary to the title, will absolutely shatter it.
Of course though, the best moments are when the band are just rockin' out. It's hard not to hear "Charlie Brown" and imagine a stadium full of 80, 000 people jumping up and down to its absolutely thunderous beat. The chorus consists of an interesting uncommon time signature and a catchy, ear worm-y guitar riff, some soulful "oohing" from Chris- as you can hear it, you can just imagine thousands of fists moving up and down through the air. "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall", the lead single off the album, shows the band just having fun- its catchy guitar riffs and how it just builds up throughout the song and eventually explodes as it nears its end is just incredible. I don't even mind "Princess of China" featuring Rihanna- hell, I don't even mind Rihanna on it, and how often do you hear that nowadays. Chris and Rihanna even have great chemistry on it, and as synth-driven as it is, it's a fun and synth-driven track which is more natural than you'd expect.
In short, Coldplay have taken a step up and proven themselves to be a fantastic group of musicians, providing a beautiful and colourful listening experience that has a little something for everyone. Although the production is a bit of a letdown- there are moments where its loudness prevents the music from really speaking for itself- the music itself is enough to make up for it, and without a doubt, this may be the real "surprise" album of 2011.