Coldplay / Mylo Xyloto / EMI
Practically every second album released this year has been a conceptual work about a pair of star-crossed lovers or the perils of living in a dystopian future. And then there’s Mylo Xyloto, Coldplay’s fifth album, which strives to do both. To achieve this feat, the Brit quartet (along with their trio of producers and contributor Brian Eno) blends their usual piano balladry and arena-style rock with a standing army of synthesizers. However, the new album sounds sharpest, generally, when that vast array of additional sound is not glutting up the mix. For instance, when drummer Will Champion’s personality is coming clearly through your speakers, as it does on the dynamic mid-tempo “Charlie Brown” – or when he’s lending a paranoiac atmosphere to the Orwellian “Major Minus” – it’s those moments that sound like genuine artistic expressions.
The second listeners’ ears are flooded with the over-driven synthesizers and heavily-modulated vocal melody of “Princess of China” – the instant Rihanna sings the verse and chorus of a Coldplay song – Champion and the rest of the band’s flare disappears. It’s all of a sudden not very hard to imagine the crack squad of engineers charged with making everything sound as commercial as possible. But, blending the style of music they’re already rather adept at with some hip futuristic sounds did result in some noteworthy achievements. A slow beat with a resonating bass punch ordinarily reserved for dance floors leads into the heartfelt piano number “Up in Flames,” making an interesting counterpoint to Chris Martin’s higher register and Jonny Buckland’s accompanying guitar riff. Meanwhile, some Sigur Ros-esque orchestral interludes help build up a few of Mylo Xyloto larger scale anthems such as “Hurts Like Heaven” and “Don’t Let it Break Your Heart.”
Download: “Hurts Like Heaven”, “Up In Flames”
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