Coldplay’s fifth studio release, titled Mylo Xyloto, will take any listener on a psychedelic trip to happiness. Expected to shoot to the top of the charts and garner several Grammy nominations, Rihanna collaborated on “Princess of China” lending unnecessary star power to an anticipated album.
To the brand new Coldplay fan attracted by the summer teaser “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall,” the album is sure to impress; to those who have followed the band since the debut of Parachutes in 2000, the album is confusing to label but extremely catchy and upbeat.
There is no doubt that each Coldplay release has its own unique sound or theme. One notices specific growth and change with every subsequent album.
Parachutes (2000) won Coldplay an esteemed place in the music world with its blend of meaningful lyrics and ballads with memorable guitar riffs. A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002) brought an emphasis on piano and electric guitar. X&Y (2005) was received with mixed reviews, but was undoubtedly the most abstract and synthesized member of Coldplay’s repertoire. Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (2008) was later released with a deluxe collection of additional songs called Prospekt’s March, and concerns emotions spanning from love and loss of power to death and uncertainty. Orchestral arrangements and experimentation with strictly instrumental songs took this album closer to the art rock genre.
Where does Mylo Xyloto fit into this schema? Coldplay rarely sounds like a stereotypical British band, and this album is no exception. More dreamlike in its delivery and content, it is a celebration of artistic expression. However, the depth of emotionality in its lyrics is masked at times by the multitude of sound effects used in each song.
“Hurts Like Heaven” and “Charlie Brown” have beautiful themes of release from society and struggle for identity but are covered by hook-laden sequences (This doesn’t make them any less enjoyable, in fact, it somewhat adds to their depth through irony).
“Princess of China” documents the breakdown of a relationship and what could have been, and delivers in instrumentals and star power what it lacks in lyrics. Rihanna sings along with lead singer Martin after an intro that borrows from Passion Pit. There is very little along the line of plot in this song, having only a catchy theme that will definitely linger after you turn off your iPod.
“Up with the Birds” may be the last song on the album, but it is first in terms of art and storybook, symphonic expression. Beginning with Martin alone with his piano, building with resolute lyrics and ambient noise lending to birdlike sound, it is an anthem worthy of replay.
“Us Against the World” is one of the best of Coldplay’s ballads ever. Beginning with narrative lyrics accompanied by a single acoustic guitar, it builds intensity with riffs reminiscent of Explosions in the Sky. Every one of their albums has at least one; from A Rush of Blood to the Head it was “Green Eyes” and “Yellow” might be the most memorable from Parachutes.
Four instrumental tracks supply effective transitions from one theme to the next, more than the average Coldplay album.
“Up in Flames” is a little disappointing after such a heartfelt ballad, but its reliance on piano and Martin’s melodic crooning is reminiscent of earlier Coldplay songs.
If this reviewer was to suggest any songs to purchase from iTunes from this album, they would without a doubt be “Paradise,” “Up with the Birds,” “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” and “Us Against the World.” Put them on repeat to accompany your life, and never forget where you heard the advice.