The first thing you need to know about Coldplay’s new album is that it sounds like Coldplay. The second thing you need to know is that it doesn’t sound anything like Coldplay.
Let’s put it this way: Mylo Xyloto (pronounced my-lo xy-le-toe) is like Coldplay intravenously shooting up liquefied industrial rock. The industrial rock is enough of an illicit substance to alter the way Coldplay sounds but it’s still watered down enough that Mr. Gwenyth Paltrow’s yelp is more than distinguishable.
A lot of reviews of Mylo Xyloto, Coldplay’s fifth studio album, have been mixed. The music critic talking heads are either in love with it or think it’s shit. But here’s why: For Coldplay fans of the Delacroix-Viva la Vida persuasion Mylo is epic. For lovers of “The Scientist,” well, your Coldplay may have been bludgeoned to death with a synthesizer. It’s like when Facebook gives itself its (seemingly) monthly facelift and everyone freaks out until they get used to it.
So stop freaking out. Chris Martin will never again be a scientist nor shall he be “yellow,” but if you resign yourself to the fact that things change, you’ll see Mylo can be as cool as “Charlie Brown” and “U.F.O”s. (People still think those things are cool, right?)
Mylo has a lot of studio-produced non-organic sound layered over a lot of white noise and electric guitars (i.e. the first single “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall”). This may not have been the best single to prelude the album release with. It’s relatively boring and simplistic in its sound when compared to the rest of the album, but there’s no denying that Johnny Buckland’s guitars are provocative. Not “light my guitar on fire during my legendary set” provocative, but up there.
The second single “Paradise” is one that will get stuck in your head–constantly–after its first rotation through the Starbucks in-store stereo. “Para, para, paradise. Para, para, paradise…” I implore you, try to listen to it once and not walk around all day sounding like the endearing stuttering kid in “Billy Madison.” “T-t-t-t-TODAY junior.”
Another thing about “Paradise.” The video is either a great video or the greatest video. Probably should have been your Halloween costume. Just sayin’.
“U.F.O.,” aptly titled, is a nice abduction from the rest of the album. It’s slow and philosophical. Like a Nietzsche lullaby. Another great track is “Don’t Let it Break Your Heart” which sounds oddly like a rave at a Christmas party.
It’s worth mentioning that Mylo is supposedly a “concept album” about young lovers, Mylo and Xyloto, who are fighting the uncaring intrinsic nature of the world. I say “supposedly” because the “concept” of this album is basically the subject of every Coldplay song ever and there’s little to no character development in this album…kind of like a Nicholas Sparks novel.
The songs on the album flow nicely together and each have an individual sound but still seem like they belong together. If Mylo was “Iron Chef,” Buckland’s guitar and the tuning of the synthesizer are the secret ingredients. What really acts as the “glue” to the album’s sound though are the tracks “Mylo Xyloto,” “M.M.I.X.” and “A Hopeful Transmission,” each no longer than 48 seconds, which really pull each part of the album’s triptych construction into another.
The album’s closer, “Up With the Birds,” seems to have an element of each song on Mylo – Chris Martin’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” in under four minutes.
If Viva la Vida was a step away from the original Coldplay sound, then Mylo Xyloto took the red-eye to the farthest country it could find and threw a 1980s dance party, which is precisely why it succeeds. Chris and Co. tried something different and not only do they get an “A” for effort but they get a nice big high five.
Plus, it seems Chris Martin has (finally) stopped trying to be Thom Yorke, which is enough of an accomplishment for this album. Overachievers, those dudes of Coldplay.