Jim Broadbent - 28/01/2012
Soaring straight to Number One in both the UK and US Album Charts, Mylo Xyloto is a love-fuelled triumphant record that deserves the wonderful reception it has found since its release.
The first two singles from the concept album, Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall and Paradise, have landed the band with three Grammy Award nominations at this year's awards, and here's to hoping that they will come away victors. Both songs are a remarkable achievement from a band who have been earning their rising fame every step of the way in recent years.
Mylo Xyloto opens with the beautiful instrumental eponymous song, Mylo Xyloto, which can only be fully appreciated whilst listening through headphones. The music slowly seeps into your soul; its sheer warmth will make your spine tingle.
The band then take us through Hurts Like Heaven, the second single Paradise, and the recently-release Charlie Brown, a magnificent three-song exposition following the title track with which we enter the record.
Hurts Like Heaven has a sense of desperation and energy that only Coldplay achieve as well as this, introducing us to the principal characters of the album's story, Mylo and Xyloto.
Paradise then shifts into a beautiful synth riff, before bringing in the strings above, and then a raw bass with a powerful drum beat beneath. Then everything strips away to leave just a reserved piano, the quiet drum beat, and Chris Martin's wonderful vocals flying above. Genuine inspiration. It is not in the slightest bit difficult to see why the song has been nominated for a Grammy Award at the ceremony next month.
As Paradise closes, in comes Charlie Brown, which was released as the album's third single on 23rd January. The song is quite simply a work of genius, and has been noted by many magazine and newspaper reviews as being one of the best works Coldplay have ever written. They're not wrong. It is a song to raise the sky, to lift your spirits, to make you feel something deep down in your heart. Sentimental though it may sound, it is a description worthy of such a powerful song.
Forthcoming single, Princess of China, will be released on Valentine's Day this year, and marks a lovely collaboration with another of this year's Grammy-nominated artists, Rihanna. Pairing Martin's vocals with Rihanna's on alternate verses, the song begs to be sung along to; it is a true crowd-pleaser.
Up In Flames takes us into a karaoke bar-setting, with drummer Will Champion's lone snare and bass drum set against the stripped-down piano and Chris Martin's vocals, telling us that Mylo and Xyloto's love has gone up in flames, quietly breaking your heart as you listen.
But all is not lost. As Up In Flames dies away, we enter A Hopeful Transmission, and as you can imagine from the title, we are granted so much hope as we head into the closing two tracks of the record. Don't Let It Break Your Heart, the penultimate track, is drenched with such beautiful harmonies set against the lead vocals, and it is filled with such energy in its entirety, before falling away mercifully into a love-letter of a final song, Up With The Birds.
Just as the album opens, and just as it has progressed through the previous thirteen tracks, Up With The Birds is the perfect conclusion to what has been a perfect album. In fourteen songs, Coldplay have done something few bands ever achieve, and it is not the first time that they have released such a magnificent work of art.
With every effort, they seem to keep improving on their last release, and that is a truly remarkable feat that very, very few artists can honestly claim. They emerge every few years with a brand new album that sounds so different to their last, yet retains the same magic that only Coldplay can bring to your ears. Mylo Xyloto marks an absolutely powerful, exceptional return from the band, and if you have not yet heard it, I thoroughly recommend that you seek it out immediately. It is their masterpiece.
Kenji Lloyd - 31/10/2011
Coldplay return with their first album in just over three years, and it is an utterly triumphant from its intimate start right through to its beautiful conclusion.
It's interesting to note how apt it is to talk of Mylo Xyloto's 'start' and 'conclusion', given that Chris Martin, the band's lead singer and pianist, has talked about it being a concept album. Good concept albums are few and far between these days - the last great one, in my mind, being Green Day's American Idiot - but Coldplay have done an absolutely amazing job creating a coherent concept with this album.
Mylo Xyloto tells the story of Mylo and Xyloto and how they fall in love in the most unlikely of places, a dystopian oppressive world. We are introduced to them in the quiet opening instrumental title track, before moving into Hurts Like Heaven, with its powerful chorus statement, "You use your heart as a weapon, and it hurts like heaven."
We are next offered the album's second single, Paradise, which opens with a beautiful set of strings before immersing us into a drums-laden, bass-heavy, synth-strong anthemic song, with its protagonist's dreams of paradise. The moments of stripped-down piano and vocals contrast wonderfully with the more electrified moments, and the harmonies in the pre-chorus are exceptional, showing Coldplay doing what they do best.
We then move through a series of fantastic songs, starting off with Charlie Brown, which has fast become a fan-favourite already, with more terrific harmonies, and plenty of sing-along moments to thoroughly enjoy. We soon arrive at the album's first single, Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall, which kicks off with a perfect synth melody. This is a song that will get stuck in your head for days on end, and you'll love that it will.
In a few songs' time, we come to Princess of China, which sees an unexpected collaboration between Coldplay and Rihanna, two of the biggest and most popular artists working in music at the moment. It is immense. Coldplay offer us something unlike anything they've written before, and it's brilliant to see that they're still willing to push themselves to create a new sound five albums down the line. Rihanna's voice lends a delicate but powerful sense of beauty that few female vocalists can offer, and it is proof that both artists are absolutely at the top of their game.
We soon then find ourselves at the final three tracks of the album, and they are an utterly blistering finale, working together so well. A Hopeful Transmission is a short thirty-second instrumental that leads fantastically into the stadium-filling track, Don't Let It Break Your Heart, which gives us something that only Coldplay are doing in music right now, offering us a sound that is simultaneously capable of filling an arena whilst maintaining a distinct sense of intimacy.
The very final track, Up With The Birds, is wonderfully divided within itself intro three sections, each a perfect complement to the others, and each a perfect way to finish the record. It opens with Chris Martin singing above his piano, and we gradually shift with the addition of strings into a guitar-fuelled catchy new verse, injected with a real sense of hope: "I know one thing. Good things are coming our way." We are then brought back to the intimacy of just a lone piano to truly close the album, and it is an utterly beautiful finish to what is definitely some of Coldplay's finest work to date.
It is both astounding and entirely unsurprising that they have been able to bring us something with such an incredible and new sound; they are four immensely talented musicians, and they never fail to bring us something amazing with each new album. Mylo Xyloto is far and away one of my Top 3 Albums of the Year, and it is most definitely worth seeking out for yourself; it really is a powerful, emotive work of art.