Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto
Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto
Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends may have had themes of revolution in its lyrics and artwork, but its music only evoked the demure ruling class, the lavish orchestrations and stately arrangements positively shimmering with regal beauty. During these sessions, producer Brian Eno gently encouraged Coldplay to experiment, but the band’s innate harmlessness kept them from truly challenging their audience. This didn’t hurt that record, of course, since the group wrote a strong set of songs and pushed themselves just enough to craft something distinctive, but Coldplay’s non-threatening nature begins to catch up with them on Mylo Xyloto, their 2011 follow-up.
From the moment “Hurts Like Heaven” kicks in with its skipping beat and bright, boppy melody, it’s clear that this isn’t the average Coldplay album: Mylo Xyloto breaks the London group’s tradition of brooding, schoolboy melancholia in favor of dance-pop-flavored anthems. This isn’t exactly a soundtrack to a night out clubbing, but the emphasis on rhythm and colorful synths means that most of these songs are only a slight remix away from the dance floor. In other words, this is the first Coldplay album to abandon self-seriousness for a optimistic, often cheery tone, both in its music and lyrics. But though they are mining new territory, Mylo is unfortunately short on ideas.
Eno returns to assist the band, but his contributions sound considerably fewer, and only the ambient and ethereal effects that haunt the album really bear his influence. So though his compositions help the record cohere, the band are largely left to their own devices and seem to be caught between their urge to experiment and their urge to write a great pop song. They may have brightened their palette, but often on Mylo, it’s clear that Coldplay don’t exactly know what to do with it. For a record that is so self-consciously pop, “Paradise” and “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall,” with their majestic sweep, are easy choices for singles, but they lack the emotion to be truly rousing. On the other hand, “Princess Of China” and “Charlie Brown” are the album’s most pleasant surprises, boasting some of the album’s most memorable moments, even though Rihanna’s guest spot on the former doesn’t seem to fulfill its potential. The group still, more or less, return to familiar territory from time to time, but the simple beauty of tracks like “Up In Flames,” “U.F.O.,” or the fine, rough-edged “Major Minus” unfortunately get lost in the grandeur of the album’s glistening pop centerpieces and feel more like passing comments rather than the small gems they are.
Mylo Xyloto showcases a band uncertain whether they should embrace the pure pop of their singles or follow their instincts into artier territory. And in their rush to please everyone, they created a relatively mediocre record with only a few shining moments. It’s an album that will likely polarize fans, but it’s hard to imagine many of them at all considering it their favorite Coldplay record. Though the album was supposedly inspired by New York graffiti, Mylo Xyloto ultimately resembles less a provocative piece of artwork and more the spray-painted scrawlings on the side of a building: pleasant while passing by but quickly forgotten.