Coldplay are among my favourite bands ever. Songs like ‘Clocks’, ‘Shiver’ and ‘The Scientist’ were the ones that got me hooked on the group, with their melodies and vocals being just perfect. I’m also a fan of their image, or lack of an image. Chris Martin, lead singer, is the only semi-recognisable man in the band, due to his Hollywood marriage to actress Gwyneth Paltrow, the rest could walk down the street without being noticed by the general public. This is a band who’ve sold hundred of millions of albums worldwide, yet they can walk around without any troubles at all. Life must be brilliant.
‘Mylo Xyloto’ the bands fifth studio album is…interesting. It’s not your typical album by any stretch of the imagination, never mind by such an ever-changing band like Coldplay. The first couple of albums were quite sombre and piano-based, their 3rd ‘X&Y’ explores U2 territory, whilst the last ‘Viva La Vida or Death and All of His Friends’, carried their first UK and US no.1’s and a more euphoric sound. This though, veers into a mixture of ‘Viva La Vida..’s tried and tested formula with the addition of a few electronic noises complimenting the sound. There is also a return to the debut albums with some sombre tunes mixing things up, although they don’t fully feel appropriate on this. Infact the entire album is rather wild and hard to pin down as one thing or another, a duet with Martin and global pop-star Rihanna sounding ridiculously out of place!
The album starts with its title track ‘Mylo Xyloto’, a little instrumental introduction that the album. These feature throughout in the form of ‘M.M.I.X and ‘A Hopeful Transmission’. These are becoming more and more commonly used on albums, as bands look to bulk them out and also prepare the listening audience for what is to come. The proper start then is ‘Hurts Like Heaven’, a joyful little burst of electro-pop, instantly utilising the new toys that the band have got. It’s catchy and bouncy, with the inevitable ‘ooooh’ from Martin, as often feature in his song-writing, and often throughout this album. A good start then, that is continued through recent single ‘Paradise’, which I at first hated, but with more and more of a listen, it fits the album’s overall vibe, as quite peaceful and relaxing. Again, the electronical sound is prominent after an orchestral intro, followed by more Martin ‘wailing’. It also develops more of the albums ‘story’, of a lovestory blossoming between a girl and boy (cleverly called Mylo and Xyloto, hence the difficult title), this is clear with the duet with Rihanna. Another ‘theme’ of the album is the graffiti used on the cover art, and whenever the band have played live recently, Martin’s piano has been adorned in the colourful ‘art’, which is surprisingly soothing!
Back to the music, and ‘Charlie Brown’ is another of my favourite songs off the album. It’s quite reminiscent of the euphoric sound of ‘Viva La Vida’, with strong drums and a rough guitar sound cutting through some strange electronic noise. This is the first sign of the ‘old’ Coldplay, and will be one that fans will enjoy, a sense of familiarity finally returning. The backing vocals of drummer Will Champion, aswell as his consistent drumming is another highlight, as he continues to impress. However, the standard drops slightly with ‘Us Against the World’, a quiet, raw little piece, that seems out of keeping with the album’s fast, electro sounds. The acoustic-based song drops the BPM drastically, totally wiping the slate clean, and it’s not even halfway through the album. Martin’s vocals strive during it, as he really seems to play up for these types of quiet, sombre songs. Early single ‘Every Teardrop is a Waterfall’, personifies this album. A decidely electronic riff opens and continues throughout, with the lyrics pretty abysmal. However, it’s catchy and built for the pop-stylings that can be seen with fellow single ‘Paradise’. It gets better as it progresses, with the drumming and eventual guitar riffs excelling eventually. As I said, the lyrics suffer though an issue recently highlighted by the band themselves, who’ve admitted that their lyrics are, and I quote, ‘s**t’.
‘Major Minus’, is a mixture of the slow, more raw music we’ve had and the edgier ‘rockier’ sound of Coldplay, with the inevitable ‘oo, ooo, ohhh’. That being said, it’s decent, but ultimately a little bit pointless, never really getting going until well past halfway through and then suddenly verging into more and more U2 sounding music, perhaps a side-effect of working with former U2 producer Brian Eno. The next two songs show how versatile, yet random the album is. ‘U.F.O’, is another slow atmospheric tune that flows along quite nicely, but yet again you wonder ‘why?’. Then the ‘biggie’: Chris Martin & Rihanna join forces to create ‘Princess of China’. It’s terrible, not that I expected any better. The electronic fuzz at the start, follows with vocalization by the two. To be honest, Rihanna’s bits aren’t that bad, but the song as a whole is just not that impressive, and quite disappointing, although I could’ve seen it coming, really!
The next ‘Up in Flames’, is again, quite a fused together song, with the repetitive kick-drum beat never really fitting with Martin’s piano and vocals. It gets samey REALLY quickly and isn’t worth its 3:13 running time. What is probably my favourite song on the album, ‘Don’t Let it Break Your Heart’, a pacey, quick tune that is more in fitting with the first half of the album, and showcases what Coldplay are best at, brilliant drumming, superb melodies and good enough vocals. It’s full of life and energy, and just fits, something which cannot be said for the last few songs. It all ends nice and quietly, not with a bang like the likes of Kasabian or even Noel Gallagher have gone for recently, but nice and quietly, with ‘Up With the Birds’. It’s probably the definition of ‘gentle’, and is so soothing and relaxing that it could be found on an album to send baby’s to sleep! Again, its relevance to the album is questionable, the same can be said for much of the album.
It’s a shame really, as the album held much potential, and is a step back from the hights reached with ‘Viva La Vida..’, that being said, it’s really not bad, just average. Rumours have been swirling that ‘Mylo Xyloto’, is the band’s final album. Let’s hope not; as it’s all a bit bland and out of place. An average, but semi-enjoyable 3/5.
Mylo Xyloto tracklisting
1. Mylo Xyloto
2. Hurts Like Heaven
4. Charlie Brown
5. Us Against The World
7. Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall
8. Major Minus
10. Princess Of China
11. Up In Flames
12. A Hopeful Transmission
13. Don’t Let It Break Your Heart
14. Up With The Birds