New Coldplay has familiar sounds

Coldplay

By: Michael Hernandez/Columnist

During an interview with Stephen Colbert on “The Colbert Report,” Coldplay’s front man Chris Martin was discussing the influences and similarities between them and fellow British contemporaries Radiohead. Regarding this, he remarked, “We are not as good musically, but much more attractive.”

For being on a facetious show and acting in similar tone, Martin ironically expressed some truth to that statement. Coldplay has received those backhanded compliments of “Radiohead-lite” throughout their career, from the earnest efforts of “Parachutes” to the anthem styles of “Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends.”

No matter the album or approach, they would be under the myopic view of critics and old/new fans alike. With their fifth studio album, “Mylo Xyloto,” Coldplay offers a healthy helping of pretty pop on a grandeur scale befitting of the biggest rock band in the world (that the hipster crowd will admit to liking).Artistic craftsmanship has taken a stronghold of a band who solely settled on some melodic strings from guitarist Jon Buckland and harmonic vocals from Martin that goes down like traditional English tea. Producer Brian Eno has taken the reigns of adding the ambitious elements of “Viva La Vida…” and now “Mylo Xyloto.”

“Hurts Like Heaven” automatically catches your attention with lively precision with Martin’s faux-inspirational singing of the lyric “Don’t let it take control.” He acts like a voice of generational youths that never necessarily wanted him to speak for them, but we still accept his preachy timbre that comes off more earnest than it does enforced.

A cascade of synths and ubiquitous “oohs” wash over “Paradise,” which is a song ripped for epic chorus sing-alongs and claps at their stadium shows. On record, it is a production piece of art that implements arching pianos and crescendo guitars with cranked-up drums on the mix that offers more to the listener. “Us Against the World” expands on their sound — but by its minimalist approach. It plays like a swooning lullaby that stretches for a “Hallelujah”-type feeling.

 

“Up in Flames” features a beat from Will Champion that grooves and echoes like hip-hop percussion resonating against Martin’s tender vocals about (you guessed it) a relationship going up in flames. Simplicity can always be counted on, even if they are pop art superstars.Having achieved success in the avenues of commercial and critical gives Coldplay extra license to teeter the line of ambitious and audacious. This is the case for “Princess of China,” featuring Rihanna. Yes, Rihanna. Are you surprised? The biggest modern rock band in the world with one of the biggest names in the pop world seems like a match waiting to set fire — and it does. The mechanical sonics mash up against one another like people will be mashing up with each other when this one is juicing up the club. I can imagine the countless number of fans going, “Oh, my God, I love this song!” turning their radio up when this hits No. 3 on “On Air with Ryan Seacrest” (you know who you are).

Crowd pleasing is something Coldplay can do so admirably that it is hard to find fault in a band who knows what they can give: music that is heartwarming and pleasant listening that does not cross the edge of too adventurous or indulgent. “Mylo Xyloto” might not actually mean anything, but the music absolutely does. It highlights a band who has amassed worldwide appeal and never seems to let up, offering a mix of pleasant, enriched pop rock that is entertaining as it is uplifting. Apparently, “Mylo Xyloto” does mean something after all.

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