Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Coldplay - "Mylo Xyloto" Album Review

Artist/Band: Coldplay
Album: Mylo Xyloto

Just last year I was talking with a friend of mine about the constant evolution in the music industry when the comment was made that "People just don't understand that music changes!" And this is oh so true. Styles have subtly shifted into an electronic pop/based sound in the past couple of years, hearkening back to the 80's and incorporating techno and dubstep influence to create a style all it's own. Some of the aforementioned music is cliche and canned, yet there remain artists who can take the sounds of the times and craft them into something creative and accessible. While many people would say that if a band has a good sound they shouldn't change it, I would say that adapting sound is a sign of a band's maturity and ability to relate to the culture.

With all this being said, one could honestly say that Coldplay is a band without fear. It would seem that way, anyhow, after the release of "Mylo Xyloto", Coldplay's newest and definitely most ambitious project to date! After the popularity of 2008's "Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends" one would have expected Chris Martin, Johnny Buckland, Guy Berryman and Will Champion to continue in the art-rock vein of their music. Or at least the space-rock sound of 2005's "X & Y". Instead, Coldplay viewed their 5th record as an opportunity to start from scratch - seemingly delivering a metaphorical middle finger to all expectations. Already being praised by some and blasted by others, "Mylo Xyloto" is polarizing fans because of it's drastic departure from the Coldplay we've grown accustomed to.

Let's start with the good. On "Mylo Xyloto", Coldplay has created a hypnotizing sound unlike anything they have ever done. Tossing out the alternative and space rock riffs for techno beats and synth riffs, this new record is gaining the attention of the pop market that they had never quite had. "Viva La Vida" had a few hits that became popular in the pop saturated market, but "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall" and "Paradise" are two singles that have already crossed over, getting the attention of people who have never before liked Coldplay. The pop feel is strong, with auto-tuning used for effect (such as on the oh-so-catchy "Hurts Like Heaven"), catchy synth hooks and bass drops. Brian Eno is credited as having played on "Mylo Xyloto", and providing what the boys in the band like to call "Enoxification". Eno contributed to "Viva La Vida", and his presence on Coldplay's records certainly takes their music beyond what one might normally expect. Take for instance the electronic beeps and heavily distorted synth of "Princess of China." Speaking of "Princess of China", this tracks features the surprising yet fitting presence of Rihanna. If all this talk of electronics and pop singers is scaring you, don't fret! There is your fair share of classic acoustic-based Coldplay music on "Mylo Xyloto" - the contemplative "Us Against The World", the religious meets sci-fi "UFO" and even the paranoid "Major Minus."

Now the bad..... Sigh. Chris Martin has always been a deep writer; using metaphors, religious imagery and history to influence his lyrics. For "Mylo Xyloto" Martin was apparently inspired by NYC graffiti and the White Rose Movement, which was an intellectual uprising against Nazi Germany. Even though this comes through clear on some tracks, many of the lyrics on this record are shallow and weak. "Up In Flames" for example is one track that attempts to build up, but the lyrics (and the music) fail to ever reach a climax. "Don't Let It Break Your Heart" is another example of a song that just seems to try too hard using pads and riffs rather than focusing on building around lyrics. The songs on "Mylo Xyloto" are all catchy, very radio friendly, and for all purposes are good songs but the problem lies in the fact that they just never seem to ever reach the emotional impact that the previous 4 records achieved.

Where is the newest "The Scientist" or "Fix You"? Where is a pounding anthem like "Viva La Vida"? While "Enoxification" certainly is helping Coldplay gain a new hold on the music market, it's complete 180 seems to be alienating their long-time fans who simply want the good old boys who wrote "Yellow" and "Clocks" back. While I am a huge fan of the new record, I see what they are saying. Electronic music is not a bad thing, but as soon as it becomes a gimmick rather than a tool, it has been abused - and Coldplay is dangerously close to this!

Still, "Mylo Xyloto" is definitely worth purchasing.

Must own tracks: "Hurts Like Heaven", "Us Against The World"

1 comment:

  1. Great review, Steven! I like the album a lot. You're right that Coldplay has their finger on the pulse of the pop world - as with Viva La Vida, this album is right on the cutting edge of modern pop/rock.

    Oh, and "Charlie Brown" should be on your must own track list!