Sound — 8
Hold your fire. One of the bands that has helped to keep the stumbling mammoth of the music industry on its feet over the last decade is making its late registration for the 2010s. Coldplay have a habitation, and hell, embodiment, of the limelight on a musical level, and that has delighted the fans and the masses while equally large pockets of naysayers feel burnt by their relentless publicity. You've got to work with the tools you're given though, and here the Londoners have used their world class facilities, endless budget and trio of leading producers to create an absolute fairyland.
Inspired, uplifting and exceptionally camp, "Mylo Xyloto" is a headfirst dive into ultra-tech, neon-lit guitar pop, eluded to only by minor flirtations on 2008's "Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends" and delivered with the sort of confidence that was previously reserved for when a hit single was in the offing. Those who blamed overproduction for bringing down the bloated "X&Y" ought to steer well clear, as there are more bleeps, bloops and studio tricks in opener "Hurts Like Heaven" than most of their back catalogue combined; indeed, remove the Parachutisms of "Us Against The World" and you have to go a long way through this album before there's any sign of the doom, gloom or humility that defined their early years. But if it was lethargic songwriting that killed that third album, here's your respite. All the excess that may previously have been in musical content has this time been stockpiled onto the post-production end of things, and while the intense saturation may have a whiff of glowstick-vomit to it at times, the songwriting never wavers. From the stadium-ready grandeur of "Charlie Brown" and "Don't Let It Break Your Heart" to the simple hit-building of "Paradise", Chris Martin and co. Have perhaps found the best songs and the best mode of expression since their initial rocket course to fame.
Lyrics — 8
Martin is a sticking point for many, of course. As much as the instrumentalists chip in and Jonny Buckland's crisp, melodic guitar lines don't half stand out Coldplay is really Chris Martin's baby and if his tone doesn't do it for you, what is he beyond a middle class fool with silly writing on his hands?
Well, he's a talented singer and a passable lyricist. His manipulation of quasi-alternative vernacular into easily digestible hooks is commendable and while he does so less convincingly on "Mylo Xyloto" than some other efforts, (see: "Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall") the ground is made up by the richness of his melody and careful consideration of notes in relation to chords.
Overall Impression — 8
In a world of risk aversion it's refreshing to see Coldplay go for wholesale changes in sound and image, meticulously constructed as they are in this case. Perhaps a cynic would point to "Princess Of China", which features guest star Rihanna, and see more fingerprints of the American megastar than Coldplay in its style - and perhaps they'd be right. However, all the best pop melody has a way of unifying masses of people, from the most passionate of fans to those who see music as sonic padding to television and club nights - Coldplay, always a "songs band" at heart, have finally put together a really strong collection and it's difficult to predict which of these eleven songs will elicit the greatest response from an audience so ready to sing their hearts out.