Coldplay have taken a lot of stick for their earnest hand-wringing style and whatever is said about their frontman, Chris Martin, there are few who take their position as a leading figure in music quite so seriously. Looking at the lengthy track listing to Coldplay’s latest epic, one would expect an hour’s worth of music. Perhaps ‘Mylo Xyloto’ is the response to that. Each track seems to flash by in an instant.
In fact it’s hard to imagine a bouncier, more positive beginning than the title track and ‘Hurts Like Heaven’, where even Chris Martin sounds like he’s inhaled some helium. Everyone will have heard ‘Paradise’ by now. Naturally, its over-familiarity will annoy as much as delight but it’s simple verse-chorus structure still makes it a highlight on this album and worthy of respect. Brian Eno sprinkles his fairy dust over ‘Charlie Brown’ too but on here the effect is uninvolving.
There’s certainly plenty of variety here. For the old school Coldplay fans, ‘Us Against The World’ keeps things simple with little more than Martin and his guitar although ‘Up In Flames’ is a better showcase for his plaintive side. At the most extreme end of their already OTT material, ‘Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall’ sings of “cathedrals in my heart” and features guitars as bagpipes. It’s big but certainly not clever. At least ‘Major Minus’ sees the group reclaim some rock gravitas. The guitars are edgy and for once the band sound intense. Kudos too for ‘Princess Of China’, where some icy pop textures and Rihanna make this an unexpected highlight.
Taken each song on its individual merits, the good songs actually outweigh the not so good moments but as a whole much of it sounds over-produced, unbalanced and somewhat inhuman. Martin and co. may well have reinvented themselves as pop stars but as far as this reviewer’s concerned, the hand-wringing days were preferable.
Coldplay Official Site