I don't think I've actually discussed it much here, but I'm a huge Coldplay fan. And if you believe what the band says, that's a masochistic badge of honor, worn bravely in the face of a public that they claim makes them "the most hated band in the world." That's definitely an exaggeration (open question: who is the most hated band in the world?), but there's no denying that there's a large contingency of the population who love to openly bash them. For me personally, the reasons that Coldplay are so hated are the same reasons that I love them: they wear their hearts on their sleeves, singing sweeping songs of love and heartbreak earnestly and sincerely. There's no cynicism in their music, no darkness, just hope, optimism, and most importantly, free-flowing, unabashed emotion. It's music that moves you to your very spirit, and for me the experience of listening to Coldplay (and especially seeing them live) is absolutely pentecostal.
Mylo Xyloto, the band's fifth album, was released this past Monday, and so far I've probably listened to it front-to-back approximately eight times. It's radically different from the organic, impressionist sound heard on the band's previous effort, 2008 masterpiece Viva la Vida or Death and All of His Friends, which was itself a radical change from the piano-powered sound of the band's first three albums. Here, the band plays with squiggly synths and thudding hip-hop-esque beats. The band claims they were inspired by 1980s American graffiti, which does sound pretentious but the influences of Talking Heads, Depeche Mode, and New Order here are pretty obvious.
That's rather admirable for a band as massively successful as Coldplay, to sonically experiment and push yourself artistically. And it works out just fine: lead single "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall" has the kind of title that people who mock Coldplay would have given the song, but it's a joie de vivre outpouring of the healing power of music, while current smash "Paradise" is a massive wall of sound bursting with big emotions and an even bigger chorus. Soon-to-be hit "Princess of China" features Rihanna, which seems odd but actually works out fine. And power rockers "Hurts Like Heaven," "Charlie Brown," and "Don't Let It Break Your Heart" are the kinds of music-as-cathartic-release songs that the band specializes in. For a slower pace, "Us Against the World" is a lilting ballad, while "Up in Flames" is moody minimalism.
Coldplay - Princess Of China (feat. Rihanna) by DJ ERM
The one band that Coldplay is constantly compared with is U2. By that analogy, if Viva la Vida was their Joshua Tree (and I believe it is), then Mylo Xyloto is their Achtung Baby. The jury's still out on it's place in the catalogue, but it's certainly one of the finest albums of the year so far.
Coldplay - Us Against the World by Silen Transitions
What are your thoughts?