Coldplay should probably stop talking about albums before they actually release them. Let’s face facts; they’re going to sell by the bucketload regardless of how many interviews they give to Q Magazine and 6 Music. Suddenly, release time comes around and the band are expected to keep to all the promises they’ve made of the past three years. As such we can expect Mylo Xyloto to be some sort of hard-rock, trance pop album. But this is Coldplay after all so it’s hardly surprising to report that it sounds like, well, Coldplay.
The much trumpeted pop direction is certainly present but it exists more as flourishes on tracks like ‘Charlie Brown’. Unsurprisingly it’s on the much-trumpeted Rihanna collaboration ‘Princess of China’ that they most embrace chart music. But even here they eschew a more traditional verse-chorus-verse structure. It’s also the only track in which you get any idea of the concept that supposedly underpins the whole album, the story of two young lovers, Mylo and Xyloto, living in some sort of dystopian future. Frankly Chris Martin’s claim, that in the end ‘love conquers’ doesn’t really seem to hold up with the Leonard Cohen-referencing closing track ‘Up With The Birds’, which nevertheless makes for a beautiful ending.
This album is not the pop-concept album that the band have been claiming but perhaps that is because saying ‘it’s more of the same’, as the album is, might seem a bit underwhelming. But this album shows a great deal of continuity with Viva la Vida and remains unquestionably a Coldplay album. ‘Paradise’ is very much the by-numbers Coldplay single but no worse for the addition of R&B production. ‘Us Against The World’ is the sort of song that appears on every album but Martin’s yearning vocals elevate it above ordinary Coldplay songs.
‘Every Teardrop is a Waterfall’ is typical of what Mylo Xyloto is. ‘Waterfall’ sounds like it would fit right into the Radio 1 playlist but it retains far more imagination and creativity than anything else you would find on that list. Jonny Buckland’s chiming major-key guitar work combines magically with Martin’s vocals (which as ever verge between anthemic and nonsensical) to create a spectacular festival closer, as the crowd at Glastonbury will be able to attest.
Rather than being chastised for not being as out there as they claim Coldplay deserve credit for at least attempting to innovate their music and provide the record buying public with something different. In an era when the biggest selling artists are also the blandest we should be grateful to have artists who are so restless and so eager to change.