Is Coldplay's New Album Timeless Or Tiresome?
By Tony Ibrahim | Wednesday | 23/11/2011
During an interview on Hamish and Andy's Gap year, Coldplay front man Chris Martin said the band wanted an album title that was completely unique, with nothing but the music giving the words meaning. So, what does Mylo Xyloto mean?
Kicking off with the titular song, Mylo Xyloto offers a warm greeting to listeners before adopting a rapid tempo that sucks them into their musical world. Instantly listerners know Mylo Xyloto won't be another linear exercise, instead it'll take them through poetic highs and heartbreak lows.
Follow up tracks like Hurts like Heaven, Charlie Brown and their album debuting Every Teardrop is a Waterfall charter familiar Coldplay melodies, distinguished by rhythmic instruments and the soothing complements of Martin's voice. These gentle rock tracks strike the perfect balance between vocals and audio, with each adding to one another. As with Violet Hill, the lyrical narrative sets up climactic musical ballads that make them emotive.
There are momentary detours with Us Against the World and U.F.O, donning a sombre mood through Martin's lonely voice and the plucking strings of a desperate guitar. Potent instruments typically dominate so many of Coldplay's songs that it's easy to overlook Martin's vocal abilities. But in Us Against the World his vocal demeanour conjures thoughts of longed, wishful thinking:
And if we could float away
Fly up to the surface and just start again
And lift off before trouble
Just erodes us in the rain
The resulting song is one that pierces the skin, touching you deep down and resonating long after.
Breaking up the album are a few short tracks that prelude others, acting as music foreplay to prep listeners for songs to follow. Such is the case with M.M.I.X as it leads into Every Teardrop is a Waterfall.
They don't fall into the trap of simply repeating themselves by including a hybridised Rock/R&B track with Rihanna called Princess of China. Coupling the twoâ€”almost antitheticalâ€”genres could've resulted in travesty, but somehow their differences complement one another, giving rock more bass while its R&B counterpart benefits from a smoother, acoustic melody.
The impressionable Up In Flames also benefits from R&B attitude with the same poignant bass lining the gaping piano presence, all tied together with Martin's saddened voice.
Don't Let it Break Your Heart comes closest to replicating the old Coldplay magic found in Fix You and Yellow, although not as deep. With a quicker pace and the universal empathy that stems from broken hearts, it's arguably the track that'll have fellow commuters catching you sing out loud.
To conclude what is meant to be an enigmatic step forward for the band is Up with the Birds which brings to mind Ray Charles' What a Wonderful World. Slow and mellow, it does its part as an album filler but probably won't be the track left on repeat.
By the album's end you learn that Mylo Xyloto must be synonymous with "not their best." It might not be an anthology of their best tracks, but even ordinary Coldplay is still pretty darn good.
Apr/May 2011 issue
reviews the hot new iPhone attach device, the Zeppelin Air. And we look at what's going on in the tablet space...