By Marc Lovatt
Slowly but surely, Coldplay have attempted to become the master of throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks, but this time around only aspects of their latest album stuck fast, whilst some tracks missed the wall all together.
Upon release of Coldplay?s fifth and most recent album Mylo Xyloto, released worldwide on October 24 2011, lead singer Chris Martin described the album as, ?a dystopian love story rock opera.? Being a die hard Coldplay fan I would love to agree with Martin, but even I must agree with the critics for once.
At times the album illustrates the pure music perfection some artists spend their lives searching for, but on the other hand some tracks fail to impress, sounding more like the sonic equivalent of tea made with a used teabag. It?s just not the same Coldplay the world knew in albums such as A Rush of Blood to the Head and X & Y.
Coldplay’s semi-experimental approach to arena anthems has made them one of the most commercially successful rock bands of this millennium. And if 2008’s Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends did not convince the world of Coldplay’s interest in genre-bending, then Mylo Xyloto shouts it to the rooftops. But this genre-bending has resulted in the situation I have painted. Yes, Coldplay have experimented in Mylo Xyloto in an attempt to stay with ?the times?. This is an admirable quality that the band possesses, an ingrained wish to evolve, to explore other avenues, but as Mylo Xyloto illustrates they still have some way to go before they can sound truly comfortable in the new dance-pop era.
The first type of song on Mylo Xyloto is the dance-pop anthem. Many of these on this album feel over produced, and in some cases the techniques used are in conflict with the essence and intention of the album. An example, would be the intro to Charlie Brown, during which Chris Martin?s vocals are sped up to create the sound of what would be likened to a singing hamster, which in my opinion comes across as comical to say the least.
Disappointingly, even the current single, Paradise, falls short for the same reason. It does indeed have the most exciting arrangement on the album, including the most memorable chorus on the album, but it seems that this directly leads Martin to take shortcuts with the lyrics. In songs such as Paradise it seems that Martin is withholding his best efforts, rather choosing to stick with comfortable clich??s: ?when she was just a girl, she expected the world but it flew away from her reach, so she ran away in her sleep?.
Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall also fails to convince the audience of its pop ambitions, as my belief is that it strives to replicate Black Eyed Peas? I Gotta Feeling, however it lacks the powerful chorus to give it the same staying power. The song therefore relies on guitarist Jonny Buckland?s over-complicated, jarring guitar riff, which in my opinion is the biggest fault with Mylo Xyloto: if a band wants to take the dance-pop route, they need to have a dance-pop chorus.
Two exceptions are Hurts Like Heaven and Princess of China. In the former, the band manages to blend its alternative rock roots(what they are known for) with their new dance-pop ambitions. The result is a pitch-perfect pop gem, with lightening striking in the form of a guest vocal provided by, Rihanna. Rihanna lends the band her pop credentials and charismatic vocals, making the song both believable and catchy.
Currently, their sound too faithfully reflects the transition period they are in, and Mylo Xyloto is fraught with growing pains. Coldplay certainly understands the theory behind the dance-pop anthem, but if they truly want to fit in, if they want to bridge the divide between old fans and new, they will have to execute it more consistently.