Wednesday, November 9, 2011

ALBUM REVIEW: Coldplay - Mylo Xyloto

By Josh Custodio

Mylo Xyloto is the awkwardly-named new album by stadium rock band Coldplay. This is the group’s fifth full-length album, coming on the heels of the stylistic shift of Viva La Vida. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Viva La Vida, although there were certain takeaway tracks from it for me: “Lovers in Japan” and “Strawberry Swing” sit up there with Coldplay’s best. However, popular opinion is that Coldplay has not yet managed to top their second LP A Rush of Blood to the Head. Do they do it with Mylo Xyloto? No, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad album. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I ended up enjoying this disc.

Doing this review on Mylo Xyloto started me thinking about Coldplay as a band. Where do they fit in the spectrum of music? I believe that understanding their place in music is crucial to understanding this album. Coldplay is in an interesting position as one of the last bands who can still sell hard copy CDs and fill stadiums. The album reflects the band’s consciousness of their place in music. The songs on Mylo Xyloto are written for stadiums. The songs are enormous. Singer Chris Martin unleashes his voice, allowing it to soar, sure to reach the nosebleed seats of anywhere they play. The synths and strings in the intro to “Paradise” sound truly epic, more soundtrack than song. I can imagine this album transferring to a live setting with ease. With this CD, Coldplay are crafting ammunition to load their live show with.

This album’s greatest strength might be its cohesiveness. They really nail the song order here. After the 45 second intro, “Hurts Like Heaven” starts with a burst of energy rarely seen from the generally tame Coldplay. This is the closest drummer Will Champion will ever get to playing punk drums. The album builds its highs and lows with pure mastery of emotional manipulation. Songs like the Rihanna-featuring “Princess of China” feel ambitious and full, while slow burners like ‘Up in Flames” (pun intended?) perfectly complement these tracks. I’m a sucker for albums that sound like albums, not merely a collection of singles. Mylo Xyloto flows nicely and constantly sounds cohesive and deliberate.

Unfortunately, at points, this CD can sound a bit murky. As mentioned above, Coldplay tries to sound big on this album. On certain tracks they take that notion too far. Nowhere is this clearer than “Don’t Let it Break Your Heart”. By the two-minute mark on this song there is simply too much going on. All of the riffs in this song could use a little breathing room to really shine, but instead they are buried amongst so many other elements that it all just sounds like a wall of sound. Mylo Xyloto also suffers from some really poor lyrics. Take for example lead single “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall,” when he sings “I turn the music up, I got my records on. I feel my heart start beating to my favourite song”, Chris Martin sounds more like Ke$ha and less like the frontman to one of the world’s preeminent rock bands.

That said, this is still a very solid showing for Coldplay. They have settled in as the youngest band able to sell out arenas on a consistent basis. Coldplay’s equals are no longer the bands that they grew popular with. They have surpassed The Killers, The Bravery and more, proving they are capable of longevity beyond their peers. Their equals in the industry are bands like U2 and The Rolling Stones. They know this and cater to it on Mylo Xyloto. This is not a groundbreaking album by any account; nobody will be buzzing about anything genre-defying here. This album knows what it has to be and delivers. It is the sound of one of the world’s biggest bands giving their fans exactly what they want, while still maintaining an artistic style. I would be surprised if this is anybody’s favourite Coldplay album, but I would be even more surprised if it is anybody’s least favourite Coldplay album.

Standout Tracks: “Hurts like Heaven,” “Major Minus”

You can follow Josh Custodio on Twitter @_allmyfriends

1 comment:

  1. Good review Josh. I share many of the same sentiments regarding this album. It's actually quite enjoyable.