"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 5