Album Review: “Mylo Xyloto” by Coldplay
By Haley Earl-Lynn
Released October 25, 2011
For fifteen years Coldplay has continued to thrill the adult alternative audience with a transforming sound. With constant comparisons to U2 and Radiohead, Coldplay fights to maintain uniqueness. The driving force behind the band’s epic success is the enduring fight to produce the “perfect song.” Striving to achieve perfection has structured the band’s creative process.
Back in 2009, after the release of the album Viva La Vida, Chris Martin, lead singer and lyricist, allowed 60 Minutes’ Steve Kroft to follow the band on the last leg of their tour. Kroft got a chance to stop by the band’s recording studio where Martin explained the writing process, which is really more like a grueling musical marathon.
Like many musical geniuses, Martin is a bit neurotic and always on the move. He grapples with a million ideas a minute. A set of rules keeps the band in line and ensures audience approval, at least that is the goal. Albums are not to go over 42 minutes in length and computers are never to be used as instruments but rather tools. With rules like these, the band hopes to find a balance between allowing the creative juices run wild and producing music the adult alternative audience can jive with.
The biggest mystery surrounding the band was addressed by Steven Colbert last week on the Colbert Report. “How do you sell that many albums and win seven Grammys and still be considered alternative?” Colbert asked, “That’s a neat trick!”
Colbert had a good point and Martin, the clear spokesperson of the band, had no precise explanation. Most critics would argue that the band’s success is rooted in abundant enthusiasm and attention to detail.
Coldplay’s newest album, Mylo Xyloto, drops this Tuesday, October 25. It is just as highly anticipated as albums past. There is much to live up to after Viva La Vida, the last album released in 2008, gained massive support and redefined the band’s strengths. With a gradual move from an acoustic rock band with charming melodies to a rock band with a pop twang, critics are eagerly awaiting Mylo Xyloto.
The newest album features Brian Eno as co-producer. Eno is commonly referred to as the daddy of ambient music. He worked on Viva La Vida and is credited for helping Coldplay step outside of the boxed in category of “acoustic rock band.” It can be expected that Mylo Xyloto has a similar ambient vibe, given Eno’s helping hand. What was not expected was some movement toward the early Coldplay sounds. A fusion of new and old, Mylo Xyloto has high and low points. Coldplay proves they are still worth all that hype though because the highs outweigh even the lowest lows (enter Rhianna).
Hurts Like Heaven – Catchy lyrics and booming sound, “Hurts like Heaven” is the perfect example of the old and new fusion. Crafty lines like “you used your heart like a weapon and it hurts like heaven” prove Martin still has the charisma seen in golden tracks like “Green Eyes” and “Yellow”. There is something about this song that draws comparisons to the organization of a Passion Pit song. Think classic Coldplay meets new, pop influenced Coldplay.
Paradise – If you can resist singing along or at least swaying to this song, you are a cold lifeless being. This song is one of the top tracks on the album, and certainly the catchiest. Try turning it up in the car, rolling the windows down, and drifting away to “Paradise”; but please, keep your eyes on the road.
Charlie Brown – This track is arguably the best track on the album. With ample radio play, tracks such as “Paradise” and “Every Tear Drop Is a Waterfall” take a back seat to the new sound of “Charlie Brown”. This is the type of song that sounds nice on the stereo but will surely be an epic live performance. This track could have fit in nicely on the Viva La Vida album.
Princess of China – This track features Rhianna and is not worth spending much time discussing. The opening sounds like it came right out of Tron. The only fans that will appreciate this track are Rhianna fans, who already subscribe to crappy music and the act of selling out.