To be honest, I’m of two minds about the new Coldplay album. I could build a case for why this is pop/rock music at its finest, and I could build a case for why Coldplay lost the magic 3 albums ago.
During my first listen through “Mylo Xyloto,” I was not impressed. In fact, all I could hear was the shiny production and over-reaching ambition. Had I written this review then, it would have been quite disappointed and dismissive. But then something happened. We brought the CD on a weekend road-trip, and a handful of the songs burrowed their way into my brain. “Paradise,” for example, is one of those songs I can’t get enough of. The bass is ENORMOUS and menacing, the slow groove is infectious, and the melody is like eating cotton candy with a side of deep fried chocolate bacon. (I know it’s not good for me…but I can’t help myself!) And although I pretend to be too cool, I bellow along with the “Ohs!” in the chorus on occasion. Okay…every time. And you should hear Henry sing, “Para, para, paradise“–that alone will make a fan out of anyone.
My other two favorites are the beautiful “Us Against the World” and the sure-to-blow-the-roof-off-every-live-venue “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall.”
But as much as I like these songs, I can’t shake the feeling that Coldplay is trying WAY too hard.
They want to be the biggest band in the world WAY too badly, and their music no longer feels as honest or organic as some of their older stuff. I’d be surprised to hear Chris Martin say “I’m not sure if people will like it, but these songs just gushed out of me and I had to share them.” Obviously, I don’t know them or their motives or their creative process, but this album sounds (to me) meticulously and expertly crafted for radio, stadium, and world domination.
As you know, “Rush of Blood to the Head” is one of my favorite, all-time albums–check out How Coldplay Saved me as a Worship Leader–and I’m desperate for them to recapture some of that magic. I want to say “Guys, please strip all the shiny production away, tell Rhianna ‘thanks but no thanks,’ stop trying to compete with more talented bands, and sit down in a small room to write some brilliant songs again.
“And Chris, please don’t write for the radio or for Billboard or to chase Bono. Lady Gaga is creating plenty of pop music that will be forgotten down the road. Don’t feel pressure to write songs you think we want to hear. We need you to be brave enough to dig deep back into the fragile, neurotic, honest place that makes you great…and create something truly human again. You’ve done it before (“Politik“, “The Scientist“), and I believe you can again.”
What do you all think? Strongly agree or disagree? What’s your take on Coldplay’s music?