The brief, instrumental opening track ‘Mylo Xyloto’ is a pretty neat introduction, with the trademark Eno-ness draped across their sound here leading onto the second track, ‘Hurts Like Heaven’. An uplifting, technicolour dream coat of a song, boasting overblown romantic lyrics like ‘you use your heart as a weapon, and it hurts like heaven.’ It’s the thought that counts.
Although their last album ‘Viva La Vida Or Death & All His Friends’ also had Brian Eno on hand, with ‘MX’ comes a much more assured application of Eno’s expertise. This can even be seen through the vivid, industrial artwork for the album, created by their artist Paris. Described as ‘the fifth member’ of the band during recording sessions Eno’s distinctive mark can be heard on many of the songs here. Including first single proper ‘Paradise’, a glorious harmony of brooding strings, angelic synths and trademark ‘ooohs’ from Chris Martin himself. An obvious choice as a single, this is evidence of Coldplay finally bringing new elements into their work as a band.
To counter this mild innovation is ‘Charlie Brown’, which would have comfortably sat in the tail end of ‘Viva La Vida’. Twanging guitars and a distinctly ‘Glasto-ready’ feel would make this a standout on any other Coldplay album, but with the tracks that have preceded it you can’t help but feel a little let down by the sudden halt in new ideas here.
Following another vague instrumental track, ‘M.M.I.X.’, comes ‘Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall’, the first teaser we were given into the world of ‘Mylo Xyloto’. Again, a typically Eno-ish affair, this is the closest we come to a bridge between ‘Viva La Vida’ and Coldplay’s latest effort. With a four-on-the-floor drum beat and his heart on his sleeve, Chris Martin comes out with some true lyrical gems such as ‘I’d rather be a comma than a full stop,’ and the simple, yet profound couplet ‘I turn the music up, I got my records on,’ making it hard not to imagine Chris Martin dancing giddily around his bedroom. No? Just me then. On ‘Major Minus’ Coldplay are back in their stride, channeling the spirit of U2, Muse and other fellow giganto-bands into another voyage outside of their typical comfort zone.
For those with a keen eye you may have noticed that at this point I have omitted six or seven tracks from this here review. At first ‘Mylo Xyloto’ was planned as a more laid-back, acoustic affair and, bar two, the survivors from this batch of songs are those I have failed to mention. In fact, the tail end of the album is largely disappointing. When the final chords of ‘Major Minus’ fade away, the gentle strumming of ‘U.F.O.’ comes in. A generic guitar’n’strings ballad, much like all the other acoustic tracks, it is hard to not let ‘U.F.O.’ pass you by as quickly as the title suggests. The Rihanna featuring ‘Princess Of China’ is almost remarkably boring, with Coldplay making the rookie mistake of adapting their sound whole-heartedly to their guest, this sounds like an off-cut from one of Rihanna’s earlier albums. Sorry boys, you were doing so well.
One distinct area this album seems to lack in is adding any dark shade to the vibrant soundscapes created by Eno. While Coldplay have most definitely taken risks here, and they do deserve credit where it’s due, it seems they couldn’t quite resist to urge to throw in some crowd pleasers. With the addition of a few dud ideas we are left with another sub-potential album from Coldplay. The best that could come of this album for Coldplay is a chaotic, hysteric response to their mild experimentation from fans, leading to a sharp fall from stadium-grace. This would finally provide a chance for them to make a(nother) great album without the expectations of fans.
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