Two years ago, Coldplay’s musical juggernaut “Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends” was a dominant force in alternative rock music. With the release of “Mylo Xyloto,” the band tweaks “Viva’s” formula for the worse by turning its back on alternative rock and opting for full-fledged pop notoriety.
On its prior releases, Coldplay mastered the arena anthem with songs like “Fix You” and “The Scientist.” But on the new release, it takes the easy way out by replacing meaningful lyrics with filler pop sounds.
The album’s first single, “Every Tear Drop is a Waterfall,” is less of a song and more of a shopping list. Lead vocalist Chris Martin rattles off lyric after disjointed lyric when he sings of trapezes, commas and cathedrals. The biggest crime Martin commits is the perpetuation of a recent trend in pop music that has artists singing about playing music. He sings in the opening lyric, “I turn the music up/ I got my records on.”
There are a few bright spots on “Mylo Xyloto.” “Charlie Brown” is a foot-stomping glimpse into the true potential of the album. There’s a stunning contrast between the sharp synthesizer lines and some acoustic elements. Guitarist Jonny Buckland’s playful riffs shine through while Martin keeps the vocal embellishments where they should be — in the background.
Nothing signifies Coldplay’s pop intentions more than its recruitment of Rihanna for “Princess of China.” If the listener ignores the chanting and “lalas,” they might find a song about an unfortunate break up. But if they can’t do that, what’s left is an overproduced jumble of fuzzy synthesized sounds.
“Mylo Xyloto” marks the end of the band’s time as an alternative rock entity and the beginning of their focus on pop styling.
2 stars out of 4.