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Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Coldplay -- Mylo Xyloto


I've been looking for the words to describe Coldplay's Mylo Xyloto since they released it last October.  After seven months of forced attempts at listening, I think I've found it can easily be described with only one: misfire. The strangest thing about Mylo Xyloto is that it is not only Coldplay's most overblown album, but also their poppiest album to date.
The big stadium sound of X&Y: gone.  The heady artiness of Viva la Vida: gone.  Focused, overly-general, yet adult-oriented lyrics: gone.  For sound, Coldplay melted all the crayons in the box together until they gooped into a glittery, brown syrup.  Modern trends, something that I'm not sure ever influenced this band before, are prominent: synthesizer over guitar, dance beats over drums (Sorry, I've decided this shall be a colon heavy review. And I shall say shall). The lyrics are supposed to be about some kind of dystopian romance or something, but who can tell. "Oh" and "ooh" are probably the most repeated lyrics.  It's like Sesame Street's vowel-coalition co-produced the album.
Unfortunately, things start out almost promisingly.  "Hurts Like Heaven" is a quirky opener, a fun spin on the sounds Coldplay have investigated so far.  "Paradise" follows, and while week for a single, still works.  "Charlie Brown" is the easy album standout, a natural progression of the sound of Viva la Vida, a good mash of the acoustic and electric sounds Coldplay were said to be exploring, and also one of the best jobs they've done juxtaposing soft and loud dynamics.

Also, kudos to the "A Charlie Brown Christmas" piano line played as the outro.
"Us Against the World" is a dreary acoustic track whose four minutes seem to stretch into eternity.
"Every Teardrop is a Waterfall" is another disappointing single, an overly-noisy dance club song that quickly tires. It's followed by "Major Minus," album standout runner-up, a darker, more menacing song than Coldplay usually attempt, and another good-example of the acoustic meets electric sound Mylo Xyloto should have run with.

The following acoustic track "U.F.O." isn't bad, and is in fact a good counterpoint to its predecessor.  Unfortunately, it's followed by Mylo Xyloto's weakest stretch, a couple of songs most guilty of the album's greatest crimes.  "Princess of China" sounds like an overproduced dance-song from a Rihanna album. What's worse, it features Rihanna.  What's even worse, Rihanna sings so much, Chris Martin seems like the guest-star.
It's followed by the hip-hop electronic beat of "Up in Flames." It doesn't work.  Coldplay just can't pull off this sound.  The title of the track is apt, and it almost feels like the band know they are in over their head.
"Don't Let it Break Your Heart" follows victoriously, but there isn't much to celebrate.  "Up with the Birds" is so barely there, I'm not sure why Coldplay included it.
So there, I've shredded Mylo Xyloto.  But like Coldplay's debut, I must admit there is something there.  Coldplay are a pretty good band, and even buried under all this dayglo garbage, that sense still somehow shines through, brimming from the good songs I've pointed out, peeking at solitary moments during the songs I've trashed.  Maybe Coldplay are just suffering from a mid-life crisis, and have exerted too much energy on Mylo Xyloto attempting to sound hip.  They shall be better served to sound like: Coldplay.

 2011 Capitol
1. Mylo Xyloto 0:43
2. Hurts Like Heaven 4:02
3. Paradise 4:37
4. Charlie Brown 4:45
5. Us Against the World 3:59
6. M.M.I.X. 0:48
7. Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall 4:00
8. Major Minus 3:30
9. U.F.O. 2:17
10. Princess of China 3:59
11. Up in Flames 3:13
12. A Hopeful Transmission 0:33
13. Don't Let It Break Your Heart 3:53
14. Up with the Birds 3:47

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