Thursday, 27 October 2011

Review: Coldplay - Mylo Xyloto

 From the moment their mellow debut of simple and charming alternative rock songs Parachutes hit the store shelves back in 2000, Coldplay became huge. Finding themselves with massive of airplay and an ability to divide opinion that has never been seen before, Coldplay have used their mellowness to take the world by storm. It was in 2008 however following the release of their dynamic fourth effort Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends that the London based alt rock quintet became a household name and frontman Chris Martin officially found himself to be an icon among the popular music culture of todays society. The kind that is ruled by Top 40 charts and Radio 1. Basically the kind of musical culture I detest. So, now that they have released an album during the stage in which they reside in these dimly lit pop culture thrones, it's clear that being put in such a position has had a fairly large impact on the music they make.

 Not to criticise it fully in that sense. The album carries a sense of grace and unique charm that is unlikely to ever be found on most songs that dominate the charts. The synthesized backdrops on Hurts Like Heaven and Every Teardrop is a Waterfall carry an etheral and very pretty feel and carry an incredibly uplifting atmosphere and credit must be given to the collaborative compositional work from Brian Eno throughout the album. It's sophisticated tranquility that still carries an atmosphere of fun and energy is pretty top-notch.
 And though the extra uses of synthesizers and pop-inspired backdrops suggest listeners will find themselves on unfamiliar grounds, there's actually the odd moments that are reminiscent of various moments of Coldplay's back catologue. Us Against the World has the qualities of a somewhat happier version of A Rush of Blood To the Head and U.F.O has a clear reminiscence to the kind of material found on Parachutes.
 But as I say, the influence Coldplay has had on popular music and the image of how massive they have become is clearly identifiable in this album. It's a point that many cynics could dwell on in great depth. All the songs seem to be made with the intention of being non-controversial radio friendly songs or sound good for their massive stadium shows. There's enough "Woah-oh" moments in Paradise to keep the entire O2 Arena jumping. But, really there's no real problem with a song being radio friendly. It doesn't mean it can't still be charming and the remarkable synth work allows this to be achieved. Creating a pretty is the ultimate goal of Coldplay's music after all. They don't need to shock. Not every band has to be the Sex Pistols after all. And if it gets them radio play, I can only congratulate their success of making songs that gain them a large following.
 If there's any problem to be found in this album, it's that musically, the use of synthesizers and backdrops is so vital, it can be hard to truly appreciate the full band effort. If I had no knowledge about this album prior to hearing it and someone had told me it was a Chris Martin solo album, I doubt I would question their statement. With the exception of a fairly remarkable bassline in Major Minus from Guy Berryman, it's difficult to find any other members add something to the album that could be considered outstanding, and perhaps implies an element of limelight hogging from Martin.
 Overall, Mylo Xyloto sees Coldplay create an on-the-whole flawless set of synth rock songs that will hopefully introduce a greater sense of elegance and joy into what is a fairly soulless world of modern pop music, while generating an interest from lovers of alt rock. Plus it's probably the most mainstream sounding set of music released this year that I can get into.

 Coldplay's Mylo Xyloto is out now via Parlophone.The band will tour the UK in December.

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