Coldplay's last album, Viva La Vida, came out three years ago, keeping roughly with their previous schedule of album releases. Yet somehow, this album seems to be their most anticipated to date. Has Coldplay reached a tipping point?
If you listened to Mylo Xyloto then listened to Coldplay's first album, Parachutes, it would be hard to believe they even came from the same band. Their first three albums (Parachutes, A Rush of Blood to the Head, and X&Y) seemed to follow a natural progression- their standard slow and melodic sound transformed with each album into something more robust, but in a hesitant way, as if they were searching for something but hadn't yet found it. That hesitation was shattered with producer Brian Eno on 2008's Viva La Vida. Eno (who's also the powerhouse behind numerous albums such as U2's No Line On The Horizon, and Zooropa), managed to pull out of the band the layered musicalities that now make up their songs.
Now enter Mylo Xyloto. Again with Eno's help, they have matured into a sound with layers and layers of ambient sound, yet with driving and twisting guitar that makes certain parts of Mylo Xyloto sound almost Achtung Baby-esque (See: "Major Minus")- if not in sound, then at least in spirit.
While some pieces are a bit disjointed (See: "Up In Flames") Mylo Xyloto has an almost concept album feel. Interspersed in between songs are musical interludes, giving way to a nonstop flow of music. (Try listening on shuffle and you'll find it difficult- its meant to be played from start to finish as one). Whether this album styling was done with blind indifference to the single-listening format dominating music today- or perhaps as a giant middle finger to it, is anybody's guess. Regardless, just when you think Coldplay's evolution from indie moody band into a bona-fide rock and roll band is completing itself on this album, the mood shifts back. Pinpointing a particular mood or genre becomes elusive.
This album seems to be completing something that was started with Viva la Vida. The tone is decidedly more...happy. (See "Hurts Like Heaven"). That depressing and lilting brit-pop sound is now...uplifting. Energetic. Like they have finally found the thing they were searching for on X&Y and Viva La Vida, complete with a sound that seems to come from everywhere and nowhere at once.
The band supposedly had said that the name Mylo Xyloto came from a discussion about what music feels like - music that comes through your fingers and toes, as if you had musical digits- Mylo Xylotos. Like music is coming from everywhere and nowhere at once. Like it is everything and nothing the band's sound has been in the past. The slow, creeping songs that were once the hallmark of Coldplay's haunting sound is giving way to robust melodies, heavy, hard-driving, dare-I-say-it fist pumping beats and chord resolutions that are incredibly satisfying.(See: "Charlie Brown")
This is a solidly transforming album for Coldplay- many who would not give Coldplay a listen or thought over the years should take special notice and give this a listen. You might surprise yourself...and all your Mylo Xylotos.
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