Following up the 2009 Grammy award winning and best selling album of 2008, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, is no easy feat. That did not stop Coldplay’s ambitious resolve to conjure up a new and eclectic set. With Mylo Xyloto, Coldplay, consisting of Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Chris Martin, and Will Champion, has experimented with synths, soothing drums, droning mixes, and a range of lyrical sensibilities. Any artistic album warrants a cohesive listening session, and Mylo Xyloto is vibrantly charming, sensual, and other worldly in concept and imagery.
“Mylo Xyloto,” a forty-two second prelude, is striking in its simplistic xylophonic warmth, and smolders the ear drums in readiness for the first full length track, “Hurts Like Heaven.” Bombastic and explosive drums play courtship with the equally pleasurable synths. Martin, as expected, in tip-of-the-tongue glory, jump starts a fiery set that has only one way to go…up.
With a cathedral-like ringing, the current single, “Paradise,” lingers closer to avid storytelling and lyrical depth. Dipped in pop song flavor, the track oozes with ooo’s and ah’s to culminate in a story about seeking the perfect world. Pianos, strings, and synths pepper a heavy drum laden melodic line, steaming with Hot AC potential.
“Charlie Brown” “busts the concrete,” gallops overhead and contributes to the continued enchanting atmosphere and depth of an exploratory set. Martin’s vocals, paired with guitar chords, are tantalizing and “Brown” champions itself as the album’s highlight. Taking anthems up a notch, the track ponders and hones in on crafty instrumentation and a lyrical repetitive structure to develop the story. “We’ll be glowing in the dark,” Martin coos.
“Us Against the World,” sharpening into singer-songwriter mode, peels open vulnerability and pain in a new way. With a more bare-bones arrangement, “World” gives Martin a chance to shine. “I just want to be there when the lightning strikes and the saints go marching in,” he quips. Taking a rebelliously juicy tone, Coldplay is able to reveal a world deceived by lights and glamour. “World,” however, unabashedly confesses and begs a fast-paced world to “slow it down.”
“M.M.I.X.,” a spacy forty-eight second interlude, ushers in the lead single, “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall.” While not completely indicative of the album as a whole, it sets the tone for an absurdly relevant texture that resonates throughout the set. It does not, however, veer so far out of left field to alienate the exponentially growing fan base. Here, Coldplay depends on chanting guitar strumming and repetitive lyrics, which only multiply the anthemic quality of the mix.
“Major Minus,” a light handed perspective on government, is an intricate guitar jam. “They got one eye watching you,” Martin warns. The breezy arrangement warps the serious nature of the lyrics into a less than complicated form. By not taking themselves too seriously in three minutes and thirty seconds, Coldplay packs an even more powerful punch to Big Brother.
“Still got such a long way to go,” Martin sings in the first verse of “U.F.O.,” which is constructed more like an interlude than a full track. In only two minutes and ten seconds, Martin is professing that the album is only half done and that there is more to get done. “Sometimes sunlight comes streaming through the holes,” he continues. After some boisterous anthems and drums, “U.F.O.,” with a floating outro, is a pleasant reminder of how good Coldplay really is.
Throughout Mylo Xyloto, the band continues to dabble in extremes from tender guitars to earthquake beats and oceanic synths. The most pop radio-friendly track, “Princess of China” featuring Rihanna, is an electrifying dance track that combines R&B, pop, and rock influences. Rihanna’s sweet vocals balance nicely with Martin’s more jagged tone, leaving listeners wondering where to go from here.
“Up in Flames” begins with a synth-sown drum beat, suggesting another club track. Once Martin starts singing, “Flames” takes a wildly different path. With only the slightly pronounced drum beat and piano, the track is perhaps the most vulnerable Coldplay has been in a good while. The chorus may be quite repetitive, but the constant “up in flames” chant nails down the intense desperation he is going through.
Wooden blocks and clocks would be a rightful comparison to “A Hopeful Transmission,” an interlude that suggests Mylo Xyloto signaling an evolution of time and space. Rhythmically, it swiftly transitions into “Don’t Let It Break Your Heart,” a message about getting through the bad times. Much in the same cliff-jarring vein of previous tracks, “Break” glues together even more synthetic drums and chords to boil together a sing-along story.
A droning back track is pinned down by a piano-driven melody in “Up with the Birds.” “The birds they sang at break of day. Start again, I hear them say,” Martin sings. At around the forty second mark, a chorus echoing “the birds they sang, all a choir,” serves as a crown for Martin’s more heartfelt and stripped down nuances. A guitar later joins in, and the low-key performance turns into an fulfilling and indulgent production.
Must Listens: “Paradise,” “Charlie Brown,” “Us Against the World,” “Princess of China,” “Up in Flames”
Rating: ****1/2 out of 5Powered by Sidelines