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Album Review: Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto

Album Review: Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto

Coldplay are easily the most polarizing band in the world right now. Depending on who you ask, they’re either almost as good as Radiohead, or almost as bad as Nickelback. I’ve always been in the former camp, and after Mylo Xyloto, I won’t be switching sides anytime soon.  This is yet another strong album of beautiful melodies, and expert instrumentation from a band that seems capable of turning out great music in their sleep. As with their last album (2008’s excellent Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends), Mylo Xyloto beings with an instrumental, in this case the 42-second title track. After that, the band takes off with “Hurts Like Heaven,” a nice slab of electro-Springsteen that will surely reverberate all round the world on their next tour. “Paradise” comes next, an equally thrilling number that sounds like U2 circa Achtung Baby if Timbaland were producing. In the past, Coldplay were lambasted for not being diverse enough, but on this album they shed that issue entirely. There’s nary a genre they won’t experiment with. Most ambitious is “Princess Of China,” the group’s much-discussed collaboration with Rihanna. In lesser hands, this would’ve been a failed experiment in genre synergy, but here it flows perfectly. Rihanna’s soaring vocals give the song a decidedly epic vibe, which Brian Eno’s brilliant-as-always production only adds to. The album’s emotional peak is the ballad “Us Against The World,” a softer, gentle number that wouldn’t have felt out of place on Parachutes. Lead single “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall” provides a stark contrast; being the closest Coldplay’s ever gotten to a rave atmosphere. It’s easily the most danceable Coldplay song ever.

The biggest key to Mylo Xyloto’s greatness is that Coldplay are able to expand their sound and explore new styles of music without forgetting why they were successful in the first place. The ballads that drove their first three albums are here in spades, but adding elements of electronic music and dance is a big help. It allows Coldplay to place their music in a new context without robbing them of their identity. Worth noting, the album is actually a concept album about two lovers fighting the oppression of their dystopian society. That theme becomes prevalent on songs like “Up Against In the World,” and “Major Minus,” which discusses the possibility of the government coming for them. With that said, the concept, while noble, isn’t especially noticeable. I was too busy enjoying the exquisite jams on this album to really pay attention to the (very loose) story. But whether you take notice of the story or not, the greatness of this album is hard to deny. Based on the mixed reviews this album has gotten (currently averaging a rather mediocre 60 on Metacritic), it won’t change anyone’s mind about Coldplay, which is too bad. They’ve been a great band for a full decade now, but people seem to resist them because for whatever reason, they’ll never be “cool.” If anyone is still on the fence however, this album is highly worth a listen. —john hugar