I know song reviews are not that frequent amongst music critics (let alone being feature articles) but when something so beautiful, stunning, mind-blowing and unexpected happens, you just have to let it out. But to understand this you, kind Reader, should understand two things: how I grew to love Coldplay, and how I lost faith in them.
The first Coldplay song I heard as far as I remember was ‘The Scientist’ – actually I saw its video on MTV (formerly known and loved as Music Television) – and I was blown away instantly. The heart-squeezing lyrics and Chris Martin’s voice and hypnotic piano riff was definitely something to listen to with great joy… and when sour times came, cry to with hope. And Coldplay’s then-latest sophomore effort ‘A Rush of Blood To The Head’ made no difference. Emotional and empathic songwriting, elegant and modest, yet airy and inspiring arrangements and solid instrumental technique, guitarist-singer-pianist Chris Martin, guitarist Jon Buckland, bassist Guy Berryman and drummer Will Champion made a huge mark on the popular (let it be ‘pop’, rock or alternative) music of the noughties.
I tried to get to know where they had come from so I downloaded ‘Parachutes’ and absolutely loved it: it didn’t really have the sometimes-grandiose feeling ‘A Rush of Blood To The Head’ at some points aspired to achieve, instead had this cosy, friendly and direct atmosphere to it, and delivered exactly accordingly: 4 English guys come together, write songs that are part playful and relaxed, part soulful and emotional, and play for us.
It was also at that time that news about the third album ‘X&Y’ started to surface so I was looking forward to it with the eagerness of a 6-year-old lurking around a candy shop. ‘Speed Of Sound’ was something much different with synths and the epic sonic architecture Coldplay has grown to use since then. The album however was a disappointment for me. There were songs like ‘Square One’, ‘Fix You’ or ‘Speed Of Sound’ that showed serious development but the album as a whole was full of more mellow songs (I don’t want to use the word ‘filler’ but imagine I did..) which tuned it down.
Thus, ‘Viva La Vida’ was not something I wanted to know everything about, I did not even wait for it. I didn’t like the lead single either, in fact, I kept my fingers crossed for Joe Satriani to win. That album was the low-point for Coldplay. Overly artistic songs, inconsistent solutions concerning instrumentation and production, it was Coldplay’s trip to a time and place where they are geniuses. Instead of that trip, they could’ve worked to be actual geniuses. ‘Prospekt’s March’ was something of a face-saver for the band with songs like the promising ‘Life in Technicolor II’ (though at first listen, I bet most of us thought that tablas are truly and utterly uncalled for in pop-rock music), the nice etude of ‘Postcards From Far Away’ and the exciting new rendition of ‘Lost’ with Jay-Z. Again, no definite memorable moments.
News started to come in about the new Coldplay album, the peak of those being the release of the song ‘Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall’ which is a joyful and really liberating song with U2-ish guitars, Chris Martin’s acoustic strumming and Brian Eno’s ‘enoxification’ (something which he is credited for on the album) and with a songwriting solution that made me fear that the scenario (both in terms of happenings and album quality) will be the same as in the case of ‘Viva La Vida’. The album title came in: ‘MYLO XYLOTO’. Sounds exotic. And just today, as I was browsing through the newly opened Hungarian iTunes Store, I came across ‘Paradise’ and downloaded it on impulse, sort of as a last chance.
Then came THIS:
And then I went ‘Oh My God’ in the most Janice-like way there could be because this song is the definition of mind-blowing. Who would’ve thought that Coldplay would come up with a song containing hip-hop-like drum beats and synth (or at least a synth-processed) bassline that is thicker and more solid than a set of bricks laid into concrete, Chris Martin’s narrative singing and a chorus that kicks us in the face just to make us fly to heaven. If this song, by any means, is a benchmark of what’s yet to come on ‘Mylo Xyloto’ then we are very fortunate.
And Chris Martin was right: they had to make their best album. I definitely think they have.
Here’s a live version of the song performed on ‘…Letterman’ just to enhance your listening pleasure: