Coldplay, ‘Mylo Xyloto’ – Album Review
Coldplay's fifth studio album, 'Mylo Xyloto,' is now in stores, and the record reminds us why many consider the Brits to be one of the best bands in the world.
Coldplay move beyond their comfort zone on 'Mylo Xyloto' only rarely, like on the Rihanna collaboration 'Princess of China.' For the rest of the album, it's just soaring choruses, cascading guitars, and emotional falsetto. Why make any drastic changes when they do what they do so well?
Much has been made of the fact that the band received songwriting assistance from innovative producer Brian Eno, who is credited with "enoxification and additional composition." But 'Mylo Xyloto' doesn't veer too far from the distinct Coldplay sound, with safe-but-pretty, stadium-sized choruses designed to win over the masses.
We expect 'Mylo Xyloto' to do just that. Here's our track-by-track rundown of Coldplay's latest effort.
1. ‘Mylo Xyloto’
The record opens with a 43-second instrumental that serves as a teaser of sorts for what is to come. The tune presents an ambient vibe built upon gentle keys and xylophone plinking before it speeds up at the end, just in time to segue seamlessly into Track 2.
2. ‘Hurts Like Heaven’
"Do you ever get the feeling that you're missing the mark?," Chris Martin asks on the engaging 'Hurts Like Heaven,' a song that is right on target with a bright melody and a vibrant pulse that almost makes the song danceable.
A string and church organ intro gives way to a hypnotic beat on Coldplay's newest single, 'Paradise,' which might be the strongest song on 'Mylo Xyloto.' "Whoa-oh-oh" chants complement Martin as he delivers the epic sing-along chorus, “She dreams of para, para, paradise.” [Listen Here]
4. ‘Charlie Brown’
'Charlie Brown' isn't a whole lot different from the two tracks that precede it, and that's a good thing. The song boasts a toe-tapping beat and a warm melody that's accessible enough to make any confusion about the actual meaning of the passages about "scarecrow dreams" and a "cartoon heart" seem irrelevant.
5. ‘Us Against the World’
"I just wanna be there when the lightning strikes and the saints go marching in," Martin sings on 'Up Against the World,' which starts off as a simple acoustic ballad. An electric guitar eventually moves in, but the song remains rather basic, making it a nice change-up from the energetic songs that kick off the album.
'M.M.I.X.' -- that's 2009 if you're doing the Roman numeral math -- is the second of three brief instrumental interludes on the album. This one is just a placeholder. It doesn't have much going on, aside from whistling synth effects.
7. ‘Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall’
The guitar-driven first single features lyrics about finding solace by listening to your favorite songs, something most listeners can probably relate to. The rather mundane subject matter keeps 'Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall' from becoming an anthem, but its appealing hook makes it one of the better tracks on the album. [Listen Here]
8. ‘Major Minus’
Radiohead is the obvious comparison that comes to mind on the alt-rock-influenced 'Major Minus,' as Coldplay rely on slightly-distorted vocals, out-of-nowhere electric guitar fills and even a guitar solo. As the only track on the record with a truly surprising sound, 'Major Minus' is one of our favorites.
The most low-key track on 'Mylo Xyloto,' 'U.F.O.' is built around an acoustic guitar and Martin's voice, as he sings, "Lord, I don't know which way I am going, which way the river gonna flow / It just seems that upstream I keep rowing / Still got such a long way to go." Barely two minutes long, the ballad seems to end way too soon, but it's never a bad thing to leave the listener wanting more.
10. ‘Princess of China’
Here's the much-discussed Rihanna cameo. 'Princess of China' stand out by incorporating electro bloops and strong bass buzz to create a somewhat haunting vibe. Take away Chris Martin's voice, and the moody track doesn't even sound much like Coldplay, but we like the change of pace. [Listen Here]
11. ‘Up in Flames’
Based on the guys' debut performance of this song last month at 'Austin City Limits,' we initially thought 'Up in Flames' might be the best ballad of Coldplay's career, surpassing even 'The Scientist' and 'Fix You.' We're not terribly fond of the album version's dull, thudding beat, which partially obscures the song's true beauty. And though we prefer the more sparse-sounding live version, Martin's beautiful falsetto makes 'Up in Flames' worth repeated listens.
12. ‘A Hopeful Transmission’
As its name suggests, 'A Hopeful Transmission' feels upbeat and playful. The shortest of the three transitional pieces at 33 seconds, the song sets the stage for the more up-tempo music to follow.
13. ‘Don’t Let It Break Your Heart’
There's no slow build-up on this track; its pounding drums and colorful guitars kick in right away, recalling the joyous energy of past Coldplay tracks like 'Viva La Vida.' A cheerful Martin urges, "Even if your aims are shadows, still we're never gonna part / Come on baby, don't let it break your heart." Extra bonus points for the best beating-heart fade-out since Huey Lewis & the News' 'The Heart of Rock N Roll.'
14. ‘Up With the Birds’
This atmospheric song seems directionless, though Martin does get in one final, optimistic message: "Good things are coming our way." 'Up With the Birds' is the weakest track on 'Mylo Xyloto,' but it's the only obvious misstep on an otherwise excellent album.