Viva La Vida Review

artist: Coldplay date: 06/19/2008 category: compact discs
Coldplay: Viva La Vida
Release Date: June 12, 2008
Label: Parlophone, Capitol
Genres: Rock
Number Of Tracks: 10
Coldplay throws a few curve balls musically on the new album Viva La Vida, but not so many as to alienate its loyal fan base.
 Sound: 8.2
 Lyrics: 7.7
 Overall Impression: 8.2
 Overall rating:
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reviews (12) 124 comments vote for this album:
overall: 8.3
Viva La Vida Featured review by: UG Team, on june 19, 2008
11 of 12 people found this review helpful

Sound: Regardless if Coldplay's style of music connects with you, there is a certain reliable quality to the band. There is no shortage of consistently pleasing melodies on the new album Viva La Vida, and you could easily hand-pick the tracks that will likely find their way onto the Billboard charts. You could make the argument that Chris Martin and company have experimented with different sounds on the new record (particularly given the several hidden tracks and the ethereal production of Brian Eno), but in the end, Coldplay never awes like a Radiohead album. For the varied fan base the band has amassed since it formed in 1997, the new material will like be embraced for it's heavy focus on calming melodies.

Many of you have probably already been given a taste of the album if you happen to be a regular TV viewer. The title track can be heard on a new iTunes commercial while Coldplay dances in the shadows, and the song is definitely catchy. Viva La Vida emphasizes Coldplay's upbeat side, which doesn't bring the piano to the forefront like most of the other tracks do. There are multiple layers to each song on the album, and this poppier number is no exception with it's subtle use of a string section. It's an understandable choice as a first single and has arguably the most memorable melody on the playlist.

Coldplay delivers plenty of Scientist-like material on Viva La Vida, but the quartet is most impressive when it enters into unfamiliar territory. The tracks that probably won't receive radio play because of their elaborate arrangements and often melancholy feel are most often the choice cuts. Cemeteries of London seems almost a traditional English folk song during the verses, but Martin takes it in more of a pop direction during the chorus with a series of la-la-las. Yes goes in an even more daring direction by using a violin in classical fashion in the intro, but then taking on a bluegrass fiddle sound. All the while, Martin uses a much lower vocal register that suits the song perfectly.

There are a few songs that feature hidden tracks tacked onto the end as well. Yes morphs into Chinese Sleep Chant, a more straightforward rock track with some nice guitar tones. Death and His Friends, a piano-heavy track that sounds like classic Coldplay fare, develops into the ambient, synth-rich The Escapist. These little bonus additions give Viva La Vida a soundtrack-like quality and work for the most part. // 8

Lyrics: The title track strays from what you might expect a typical radio single to deliver lyrically, offering up some intriguing lines. Martin sings, I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing; Roman cavalry choirs are singing; Be my mirror, my sword, my shield; My missionaries in a foreign field; For some reason I can't explain. This track marks some of the most vivid and inspired lyrics on the album. Not every track sustains this kind of originality, but even the simply-stated lines (They were sitting; They were talking; In the strawberry swing; Everybody was for fighting; Wouldn't wanna waste a thing as heard in Strawberry Swing) have a sentimental quality. // 9

Overall Impression: If you're a fan of Coldplay's piano-led singles that have occupied the airwaves, then you won't be disappointed in Viva La Vida. There's a heavy dose of the mellow, soft rock that the band has delivered in the past, but there is a more ambient sound interwoven into it all. On iTunes there were a few bonus acoustic versions of Lost! and Lovers In Japan, with the first track being basically Martin and his piano. It's the alternate version of Lovers In Japan that makes a bigger impression because of it's rich, layered acoustic guitar arrangement.

Undoubtedly Roxy Music veteran Brian Eno (often called the father of ambient music) had input in the overall sound, but it never gets to the point where dramatic synth lines go on so long that they're driven into the ground. In fact, considering the best tracks sound a bit darker than the usual singles, it probably wouldn't hurt Coldplay to go even further outside of their comfort zone in the future. // 8

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overall: 9.7
Viva La Vida Reviewed by: csc501, on june 19, 2008
5 of 5 people found this review helpful

Sound: Viva La Vida takes the unique sound of Coldplay to the next level of muscial mastery. This album more than any of its predecessors has a 'sound', a well tuned and defined sound, an almost Radiohead esque purity of purpose that give the whole album a feelign of being just that bit special. Try to imagine the Colplay of X&Y, purifued, with an additional element of pretense, and a self-certainty that would make it hard to believe they ever soudned any other way, if you didn't already know they have done. It takes Coldplay's harmonys to a new level, with a 'funked-up' percussion, a move away from the verse chorus strutcure. Viva la Vida simply has a sound oozing with intelligence, instantly captivating and magnificinetly executed. // 10

Lyrics: The voice of Chris Martin has been described in a hundred and one ways, but teh meaning of the songs has generally been transparent, or not the topic of much debate. Viva la Vida breaks this mould, with intriguing statements, often repeated, indeed in terms of quantity there are probably less passages of lyrical input in Viva la Vida than any previous album, indeed there are frequent instrumental sections, and even an instrumental opener. What is there is generally far more interesting than previous efforts and fits well with the musical style. Numerous reference to death god and the afterlife, give this album an additional and much appreciated edge. // 9

Overall Impression: Viva la Vida is a masterpiece, it's Coldplay's best album, and it's an instant classic of an alternative era. Parachutes though acclaimed, was much in tune with the other down-beat indie of the time (although whether it would have been called indie at the time I can't quite recall), now the comparisons are vastly more far reaching, Radiohead, The Who, maybe even the Smashing Pumpkins (in each case with reference to their later works), but in truth it's a unique sound and whilst the musical intrigue and topics may remind some of Pumpkin's Machina & Adore, or the complexity and move towards a more 'dancey' beat, the transition of Radiohead, this album is it's own. There's always a downside, and for Viva la Vida the lack of the more punchy 'single' material perhaps could be pointed at, and renewed claims that Coldplay's style is simply dull, have a hint of merit. However it's simply too interesting and perfectly constructed to make those into major complaints. // 10

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overall: 1
Viva La Vida Reviewed by: unregistered, on june 20, 2008
4 of 22 people found this review helpful

Sound: This album is a pure disappointment on every single level. The sound is repetitive, the ethereal sounds that 'Fix You' barely got away with on their last album is used far too extensively on this record, and none of it sounds much good. The only contrasts are the two singles 'Violet Hill' with it's evident ska influence and 'Viva La Vida' which is an anthem which would encapsulate the whole album. // 1

Lyrics: Chris Martin's lyrics get more dull as each album is released. Where the lyrics were extraordinary on songs like 'The Scientist' and 'Trouble', the same imagery [of things like soldiers and historical figures] is used over and over again. Often, he's barely inedible, which makes him sound like he's whining about nothing interesting at all. A huge disappointment. // 1

Overall Impression: This album, to me, is even worse than their last release 'X&Y', which I thought was insufferable. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love their first two albums, yet I'm bitterly disappointed by their new movement. The only songs I'd recomend are the two singles, and I'd rather listen to eighties pop for the rest of my life than consider buying this record again. // 1

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overall: 9.7
Viva La Vida Reviewed by: A3r0sm1th, on august 26, 2008
3 of 3 people found this review helpful

Sound: They've done it again! Coldplay's newest, Viva la Vida is definitely a must have! They are so consistent with putting out great albums that they are my favorite soft rock group of all time. Chris Martin's piano is always great to listen to and the different sound they have makes them stand out from the crowd. Quite a few of the tracks from this album will be topping iTune charts without a doubt. I love this group and will enjoy listening to every CD they put out! // 10

Lyrics: Their lyrics are always great. I more listen to them for their sound, but my overall impression is good. The lyrics don't always make sense to me, and can be unusual sometimes. The lyrics that stand out the most to me are from the track "Viva la Vida". "I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing; Roman cavalry choirs are singing; Be my mirror, my sword, my shield; My missionaries in a foreign field" This track contains the most inspired lyrics on the new album. Like I said, I listen to them more for their unique sound, but Chris Martin does a great job singing in my opinion. // 9

Overall Impression: This album does keep that consistent, unique Colplay sound that you would recognize right away. They do add a couple different sounds, but it's still the same, great Coldplay we all know and love. My personal favorite tracks are "Violet Hill" and "Cemeteries of London". If it were damaged or stolen, I would buy 10 more copies to have a limitless supply! I love the new sounds, I love the old sounds, and I love this album! // 10

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overall: 9.3
Viva La Vida Reviewed by: GuitaristJade, on june 19, 2008
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: Well, it is definatly soft rock. Very different from their old stuff. Some songs like "Yes", are pretty weird. It's different, but not bad. I personally love the song "Viva La Vida". It had an awesome beat, plus an awesome chord progression. They also loved using violins in this album. So you'll hear a lot of violins in the songs. They always used a different main instrument in every album I think. In Parachutes, they used a lot of guitar, in AROBTTH, they used a lot of piano, in X&Y, they used a lot of synth, and now in Viva La Vida, they used a lot of violins or violin sounding synth. So yes, it sounds a lot different from what you'd think. But, it still has the taste of Coldplay we all recognize, just a little different, and just as relaxing and awesome as their old stuff. // 9

Lyrics: I haven't really studied their lyrics. But this is Chris Martin we're all talking about here. He writes some pretty crazy stuff. They're all good lyrics, but their just weird. I have nothing against them, they're just good and enjoyable. They all flow and good on the ears. // 10

Overall Impression: Great album. Definatly a keeper. It's a little different from what you'd think. But, it still has the same great taste of Coldplay we all recognize, just a little different, and just as relaxing and awesome as their old stuff. Buy the album when it comes out on June 17th. Prepare yourself for some awesome soft rock people. // 9

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overall: 9.3
Viva La Vida Reviewed by: pkg2008, on june 19, 2008
2 of 3 people found this review helpful

Sound: Brian Eno was a great addition to producing Coldplay's 4th album. Eno has created I kind of tribal effect on the album with some songs such as Viva La Vida which also uses some choir singing towards the end of the song. Violet Hill is the mains song on the album and so it should be. The great lyrics, heavy chords from the electric guitar and a great video to go with it; it should have been number 1 in the charts but it only made 8th in the charts as a single. it's also a potential grammy award winner. No doubt this album will be number 1 in the album charts. // 10

Lyrics: If you could describe Chris Martin in 1 word it would have to be 'legendary'. The great voice to the great songs like 'Yellow', 'Clocks', 'In My Place' and many many more has to be voted the best singer of the 21st century by a mile. The lyrics to some of the songs are very detailed and don't always seem like the best lyrics but any lyrics just sound great with the voice of Chris Martin. // 8

Overall Impression: On a overall impression the phrase to describe the album is 'Different but still excellent'. Brian Eno certainly changed the mood of Chris & co. because it seems as though every album gets better & better which doesn't happen with many bands. It's certain that Violet Hill is the best song on the album but songs like Lovers in Japan and Viva La Vida are also amongst the best. There hasn't, isn't and wont ever be anything to hate about Coldplay simple excellence. A real must have album! // 10

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overall: 7
Viva La Vida Reviewed by: Big_4, on june 30, 2008
1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: The overall sound of Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" is without a doubt unique amd like nothing heard for quite a while. The presence of producer Brian Eno on this album is evident on almost every track, and the listener can detect traces from "Music For Airports" and "Another Green World." Songs like Life In Technicolor, Violet Hill, and Death And All His Friends are centered largely around airy soundscapes set by synth pads, where as songs like Lost (which features oriental-style drumming) and Strawberry Swing incorporate progressive, innovative rhythms. It's a new approach for Coldplay, and I greatly welcome is as a change of pace from the usual slick piano tracks. But they will be missed. // 8

Lyrics: The lyrics on "Viva" are bizarre and cryptic, to start off with. Lyrics like "No I don't wanna battle from beginning to end; I don't wanna cycle, recycle revenge; I don't wanna follow death and all his friends" (Death And ALl His Friends), it's become appaernt that Coldplay's view on the world has become more somber and even depressed. Long gone are the beautiful love ballads like Yellow or the Scientist, the uplifting angelic vocals. The album lacks the most here. // 5

Overall Impression: In the long run, I think this album will be just another release--not their best or worse. But as of right now, it's a good fix. I, for one, miss the uplifting lyrics and the smooth piano, but their new found love of the drums and chunkier beats are also welcome. I feel the songs like "Lost!," "Violet Hill," and "Death And All His Friends" will become instant Coldplay classics (especially Death And All His Friends), but they will never draw mainstream attantion. The album is a big change of pace. It's not a adequate replacement for the smooth soft piano rock of yore, but it is still an excellent album. // 8

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overall: 6.3
Viva La Vida Reviewed by: unregistered, on june 19, 2008
0 of 10 people found this review helpful

Sound: Coldplay changed their sound a lot. In comparison with "X&Y", their music is slower, less melodic and more based on rhythm. They very emotional synth, and guitar parts (Speed Of Sound, Fix You), witch, in a way, defined the band the last years, are completely gone. People who like the style of "X&Y" may be disappointed by "Viva La Vida", and people who were not satisfied with the 2005-release may appreciate the new side of the band. // 5

Lyrics: It's too early for a deep analysis of the lyrics. The first impression is that the lyrics are not as important as the were on the previous records. There are more instrumental parts. The new sound is not so suitable to Chris Martin's voice. In a way it is a pity that he does not (can not) show all his skills on this album. // 8

Overall Impression: "Viva La Vida" is definitely something new. Coldplay made a clear break to the sound they createt and developed for so many years. The record has only ten songs, my favorite one are "Cemeteries Of London", "Lovers In Japan" and "Viva La Vida". All in all, I'm pretty disappointed. I expected a follow-up to "X&Y", a record which has a clear direction. It looks like Coldplay searched for new influences and tried to set them together. For me, it ended in a failure. // 6

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overall: 9
Viva La Vida Reviewed by: Robbiekeano, on june 19, 2008
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: The opening Life In Technicolor introduces their subtler approach. It strains to be a Coldplay Epic TM, but teasingly stays an instrumental. Cemeteries Of London follows. Folkier and more downbeat than usual, it's pretty but one of the album's more predictable moments. It truly explodes with Lost!, as Will Champion's inventive percussion solidifies into a nagging tribal groove behind Chris Martin's huggable vocals. Next is 42, the undoubted standout and the best argument to win back early fans who went off Coldplay once the stadiums came calling. Starting out like Imagine, it suddenly switches into a titanic shoegaze drone, only to turn into a fabulous upbeat terrace anthem before heading back to its piano origins. All in four minutes. Yes/Chinese Sleep Chant's hypnotic bass is similarly unexpected, Martin again singing with unusual menace. Lovers In Japan's euphoric keyboards, reminiscent of The Beloved, make it the first Coldplay floorfiller. It turns into Reign Of Love, the album's weakest ballad-by-numbers along with Violet Hill, which was a downright peculiar choice of first single. The title track rescues matters again, furthering Lost! 's African percussion. It's both too subtle to be a cloying appropriation of Tinariwen rhythm, and too joyous to care what anyone thinks. Strawberry Swing is better still, keeping Lovers In Japan's euphoria for a blissed-out trance. Death And All His Friends' lovely guitars soon fades into hidden song The Escapist, which sees Martin chanting over producer Brian Eno's most obvious input, a circular wall of ambience. // 10

Lyrics: Let's be clear: this isn't a Year Zero "everything you know is wrong" album. As Chris Martin says, they're too much in love with communal anthems to adopt the standard "if anyone else likes it, it's a bonus" attitude. It an album with words that sound great and interesting but don't make a lot of sense. There are moments of brilliance, and moments of madness. // 8

Overall Impression: If X&Y can be seen as ending a trilogy, how much of Coldplay's new influences can be detected this time round? Tinariwen, Rammstein, MBV and Gershwin have been mentioned. There's no sign of Rammstein, but the others are there. Anyone who hates Coldplay won't be swayed, and the lyrics can be a bit trite at times. But it's a reminder that, sometimes, big is best. // 9

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overall: 9
Viva La Vida Reviewed by: unregistered, on june 23, 2008
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: The overall sound of Viva La Vida is consistent with the rest of their material. Coldplay has proven once again their ability to write great melodies and consistently craft strong pop rock songs. Fans in stadiums around the world will be heard singing powerful hooks found in songs such as "Cemetaries in London" and "Viva La Vida". However, Coldplay did do some things differently. For example, the song "Yes" is a standout on the album, showing a Zeppelin-esque mix of blues and Middle Eastern flavors not heard in most, if any, earlier Coldplay material. The sound is a mixture of the tried and true Coldplay anthems mixed with some interesting new directions that have developed a powerful sound. // 9

Lyrics: With plenty of religious references and a few political ideas, Viva La Vida has a number of interestingly built lyrical pieces. "42" displays a hint of Pink Floyd-type influence in it's words. Even the less lyrically complicated songs, such as "Strawberry Swing" or "Lost!", are still very powerful in different ways. // 9

Overall Impression: Overall, I honestly can't stop listening to Viva La Vida. The title track and single "Viva La Vida" is, IMO, one of the lesser tracks on the album, leaving some Coldplay fans I know and myself somewhat weary of the band's tendency for releasing disappointing singles (ex: "Speed of Sound" off of X&Y). Nevertheless, the album is very impressive and is a yet another great piece of work by Coldplay. If you are any bit into Coldplay, you will probably get hooked very quickly to this CD. // 9

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overall: 8.7
Viva La Vida Reviewed by: JerSim94, on july 15, 2008
0 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: I believe that the album was as good, if not better, than "A Rush Of Blood To The Head". I like the drawings they did in the information pamplet to show each song in a different way. The pictures were very near what I think when I hear the songs; the vibrant colors, etc. The sounds were vintage Coldplay, synth, short, definitive guitar solos, and the speakeasy singings of Chris Martin. There was only one inovation, but that was only involved in certain songs; the two-beat songs, such as "Lovers In Japan" was new to me from Coldplay, because They had two songs in one. Overall, quite a good sound from a good band. // 9

Lyrics: I think that some of the lyricism was a bit different. Most of the songs' lyrics were good, but some of the lyrics just seemed like they were there just to rhyme. On every song, the music went fantastically with the lyrics. The singing skills of Chris Martin aren't that good. The way he sings is a talk-sing mix, and, though Coldplay is one of the only bands to do that, they still need to pick up the action. They only did that in two songs on thw whole album, "Viva La Vida", and "Violet Hill", but that is a start. // 8

Overall Impression: I think that it is similar to all of Coldplay's albums. It was highly anticipated, but no one expected what was to be on it, so it let a few people down. The most impressive songs are "Yes", "Strawberry Swing", "Violet Hill", "Lost", and "Cemetaries of London". I love the perfect colaberation of all of the music, for it sounds perfect on almost every song. I hate the safeness of the album. I wish Chris Martin would take a chance, and sing through a whole song without talk-singing. If it were stolen, I would probably buy it again without a thought. This really was an impressive album. // 9

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overall: 8.7
Viva La Vida Reviewed by: PancakeLad001, on january 29, 2009
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: One of Coldplay's best albums, it definitely has some good songs on it. Lost, Viva La Vida, and Death And All His Friends are definitely the 3 best songs. Their songs are not based on piano on this CD, so that was a major step up. Yes is the only song that is not good on this CD, along with Life In Technicolor, because it has no lyrics. It just has some weird instruments playing in it. If you waited a little longer, you were rewarded. The bonus CD Prospekt's March came out a few months after the original release. This included 8 new songs, with a Life In Technicolor II (with lyrics! ). You should definitely get both. // 9

Lyrics: Most of the lyrics were great, for the exception of Yes and Life In Technicolor. Life In Technicolor implies some background singing, but it sounds like they're moaning or something. Not exactly the best I've ever heard. Yes has good lyrics, except for the fact that Chris Martin (lead singer) alters his singing style. His voice gets very low, and the singing in that song just sucks (sorry Chris). Otherwise, the lyrics are great in the 8 remaining songs. If you get the Prospekt's March edition, you get 7 new songs with lyrics that are pretty good. // 8

Overall Impression: This album comes in second when it comes to all of their albums. I think X&Y is their best album. There weren't enough songs on the album, and since 2 of the songs were total crap, well, that doesn't leave you with much. Getting Prospekt's March helps out a lot by giving you an additional 8 songs. I recommend this CD to any Coldplay fan, or even if you haven't even heard of Coldplay (I hope you have). I just recommend getting the deluxe edition with Prospekt's March. // 9

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