It is hard to believe that Chris Martin and the gang have been together for fifteen years. Bands rarely ever make it past a decade without any shake-ups. Enter Coldplay, four hit albums later and with another one ready to cement their place as one the biggest acts of our time. Mylo Xyloto is Coldplay’s latest album and their second attempt at incorporating electro-pop into their sound. Has it worked or is Coldplay, much like other aged bands, nearing the end of their shelf life?
The album opens with “Mylo Xyloto”, the instrumental title track. Just to clarify, Mylo and Xyloto (zy-le-toe) are the two protagonists of the album’s concept story. Lovers caught in an urban dystopian age, Mylo and Xyloto must find the proverbial meaning of life and love in a world that has been torn apart. The story, according to Martin, has a happy ending (it is Coldplay, after all). In general, the album as a whole is a lot more optimistic than anything Coldplay have ever put out before: most songs urge you to dance rather than contemplate your mortality. In fact, only four of the fourteen songs on the album are ballads, the best of which is either “Us Against the World” or “Up in Flames”.
By now, most fans are aware of “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall”, which the band released earlier this year. Most of the tracks on the album are related in sound to that one song – which, for Coldplay, is a little lazy. However, there are a few exceptions: “Major Minus” at least tries to sound unique and “Charlie Brown” as well as “Don’t Let It Break Your Heart” will please many Coldplay fans by harking back to the band’s old sound. Perhaps the similarity of the songs on the album isn’t a bad thing. It creates cohesion and consistency, which make it clear what the band was trying to do – sound more electronic. Whether you agree with their new direction or not, they have definitely succeeded in executing it.
The band labelled the album “schizophrenic”, referring to the vast amount of different techniques used to produce each song. Faithful Coldplay fans will be able to overlook the change in sound, the curiously absent “and” in the album’s title, the significant decrease in Coldplay’s signature “woah-ohs” to find a lot worth loving about this brave new record.