Now that I’ve given a ‘couple more’ listens to Coldplay’s song ‘Paradise’ (about which I wrote a just-as-much sentimental and romantic piece over here), all the blinded passion that it caused when heard for the first time (correction: the first fifty times), have not at all gone away. They rather transformed into some general appreciation, and some moderate looking-forward when it came to the subject of this review, the album, ‘Mylo Xyloto’.
I did not even listen to the songs when they were offered for streaming one-by-one, day-to-day before the album’s release on iTunes. On the other hand, pre-ordering was an almost compulsory thing since ‘Paradise’ was not just a well-written and flawlessly produced song, but also a pledge and promise: Coldplay are going to twist on their style and put out an album which redefines them just as much as reaffirms their signature songwriting and instrumentation known, recognized and acclaimed throughout their career.
In that sense, the album delivers. Without doubt. We get both sides: incredibly crisp and polished, yet creative and uplifting, sometimes almost ethereal production – soundscapes, arrangements, sounds, mixing, the whole package – paired with the oh-so-well-known and oh-so-loved signature instrumental solutions from the band, and the sometimes overly romantic, yet very straightforward and lovable lyrical content Gwyneth Paltrow’s husband and his lot are renowned for.
Take the song ‘Charlie Brown’, for instance. I sincerely think this song is the quintessence of everything Coldplay have ever recorded and published. I could easily enumerate which segment or layer of ‘Charlie Brown’ conjures up which era, album, sound and piece of character of the band (beginning with the 4/4 rush of the drums, the dynamic and dense bass reminiscent of ‘X&Y’, the guitar melodies which could have been left on a hard drive or tape from the sessions of ‘A Rush Of Blood To The Head’) but that would be lengthy and pointless since it would give the general public the biased and untrue notion of ‘Mylo Xyloto’ being a repetitive and dull album and ‘Charlie Brown’ being the only good song on it. Or the only song whatsoever.
But that’s not the case. The album’s second side puts the stakes even higher. Rihanna’s featuring on the song ‘Princess of China’ could be perceived as some sort of a clever marketing decision, instead it becomes the album’s most dangerously experimental song but the most surprising as well: Rihanna’s not here only because of her exotic voice – on the contrary, the Barbadian singstress stays on par with Chris Martin’s lead and steps out alone into the spotlight only in the coda at the end. Then comes ‘Up In Flames’, one of the album’s four ballads with minimalistic – mainly acoustic – instrumentation. Then, after ‘A Hopeful Transmission’ comes the album’s climax ‘Don’t Let It Brake Your Heart’ after which we go ‘Up With The Birds’, an uplifting epilogue to the story of two lovers, Mylo and Xyloto.
‘Mylo Xyloto’ is an elegant, yet daring concept album with slow ballads, driving bursts of emotion, mixing rocking guitars and bass with drums in many places inspired by hip-hop, and much, much electronica put in place with extreme sense of proportionality, care and artistic bravery.
Besides that, it’s an emotional story, lovely and vivid story which gets you out of the war-torn (war porn-torn), alienated, overly digital and mechanic, everyday life.
And it’s also the first MONTHLY MUST.