Coldplay - 'Mylo Xyloto' Track By Track Review
Britain's biggest band prepare to take over the world...
As they prepare to release their fifth album, Coldplay find themselves with the title of Biggest Band In The Word within their grasp, and Mylo Xyloto bursts with stadium-sized ambition and colossal tunes.
According to Chris Martin, Mylo Xyloto is a concept album, "based on a love story with a happy ending" and inspired by old-school American graffiti and the anti-Nazi pacifist White Rose Movement.
The story features the characters Mylo and Xyloto, who are living in an oppressive, dystopian urban environment, where they meet in a gang called The Lost Boys and ultimately fall in love, but as with Coldplay's other works the lyrics tend to be more about universal feelings than specifics.
"It's about being free to be yourself and to express yourself among negative surroundings", Martin says.
The album was produced by Markus Dravs, Daniel Green and Rik Simpson with "enoxification" from long-term collaborator Brian Eno.
Sonically the album doesn't represent any radical change for the group, but rather distils elements from their previous work into an epically grand collection that cements their imperial position as the biggest gang in town.
Coldplay - 'Mylo Xyloto' Track By Track Review
1. Mylo Xyloto
The first of three short instrumental pieces - along with M.M.I.X. and A Hopeful Transmission - that run trough the album. All three feature abstract washes and serve to set the scene for the tracks that follow, and give the album a sense of being very much a unified piece.
2. Hurts Like Heaven
The first track proper, Hurts Like Heaven rushes to great the listener like an over-excited puppy, with rinky-tink 80s keyboard sounds giving way to a more traditionally 'Coldplay sounding' anthemic guitar rocker.
Second single Paradise builds slowly over its first half, as strings and organ set the scene before the band unleash the ridiculously catchy sing-a-long chorus. Like many of the album's tracks Paradise features a 'who-hoa!' hook, and seems built to be sung by large crowds in muddy fields for years to come.
4. Charlie Brown
Reminiscent musically of Viva La Vida's Lovers In Japan, Charlie Brown is a beautifully uplifting track with rallying lyrics, building to declarations that, "We'll run riot / We'll be glowing in the dark".
5. Us Against the World
Introducing the track at this year's Oxegen festival, Martin declared, "You won't know this one yet, but one day it might be your favourite song". It seemed a cheekily bold boast at the time, but this mainly acoustic number, overlain with some of Jonny Buckland's most delicate electric guitar work to date, is certain to become a firm fan favourite.
7. Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall
One of the defining tracks from this summer, the first single release from the album will already be very familiar to most listeners, and is an energetic, euphoric romp.
8. Major Minus
Perhaps the most obviously U2 influenced track on the album, this dark, edgy rocker wouldn't sound out of place on Achtung Baby
In start contrast to the preceding Major Minus, U.F.O. is a stripped down acoustic number. Delicate and refreshingly intimate after the bombast of some of the album's earlier tracks, it acts as an aural sorbet
10. Princess of China (featuring Rihanna)
The hotly anticipated team up with Rihanna is one of the album's highlights and is an obvious contender for release as a single. The track switches between acoustic breaks in the verses and a mid-paced stomp over the chorus, and sees Ri take the lead on the majority of the vocals. Expect to hear this everywhere in the coming months.
11. Up In Flames
The last track recorded for the album, Up In Flames is a lilting, piano-led ballad dealing with loss and the admission that a relationship has run its course. A natural successor to X&Y's Fix You, this heartfelt tearjerker will no doubt trigger waves of emotion across stadiums and festival crowds for years to come.
12. A Hopeful Transmission
13. Don't Let It Break Your Heart
A joyous romp, this bombastic stomper sees Coldplay at their most life-affirming. Buckland's cascading guitars float over a thumping backbeat, and the track shares the optimism and enthusiasm of Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall.
14. Up With The Birds
The album's finale features both a lyrical lift from Leonard Cohen and a musical sample from Queen's Brian May. Despite this the track is still recognisably a Coldplay number, which seems to soundtrack the closing scene of an imaginary Disney movie. The album's final lines: "A simple plot / But I know one day / good things are coming our way", sum up the spirit of the the album as they bring it to a peaceful close.