Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto
Mylo Xyloto is perfectly designed to blow up in your face. Eleven proper songs, all named after the biggest and the best, like landmarks tumbling side by side: holy lands, flames, princesses, waterfalls and uh, Charlie Brown? Each song hits some sort of ridiculous climactic hotspot that seemed impossible the second before it happened. Just listen to “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” the moment the drums kick in for real. It seems completely implausible that a song that started so big could become any bigger. It sounds like the exact Coldplay song that you want to get made over and over again, and for Mylo Xyloto, it finally gets made. It’s Coldplay at heart. Nothing strung together by flimsy concepts; no X axis and no Y axis, no violent Spanish conquests. It’s just huge.
In that sense, the record feels like “Fix You” eleven times, exploding from all sides. There’s something about that song that can easily hit at the gut, and it’s more about when that moment comes in than how, the organ-like sounds shuffling off stage for a climax made glorious by Will Champion’s drum-kit. On Mylo Xyloto, however, Coldplay don’t dedicate much time wondering when their songs will hit their glorious peaks, for this time they appear confidently boisterous, at large when they go in and larger when the drumbeat kicks. It’s a powerful thing, hearing a band this way, so it’s a moment such as “U.F.O.” that kills the record’s infinite momentum, putting a band that seems energized at all corners into a state of contemplation too reserved for the bright colours they’re splashing their graffiti with. Mylo Xyloto was not a record made by a subdued band, and so when this acoustic number creeps in- along with the restrictively controlled beats of “Up in Flames”- it feels like too much thought and not enough waterfall.
To hell with the contemplation; what makes this record so good is the complete abandonment of making Coldplay a leftfield band. Viva La Vida might have had us begging them to take us back- our very own Adam Downer complimented Coldplay for their ‘balls’, and later their guts- but Mylo Xyloto completely refuses the listener a moment alone with their brain in that way. There’s no time to be surprised by any experimental balls when “Hurts Like Heaven” strikes full force, no time to ponder where Eno weighs in on this one. Interludes aside, every song is designed to bash you over the head rather than to let you use it. Mylo Xyloto is a big, broad album, with songs founded on themes no less than the greatest conceivable. And who doesn’t fall for that Coldplay? I mean, it hurts like heaven? It’s us against the world? This is a Coldplay in their very own world. It’s huge and relentless, and they’re wrapped up in it.
It makes perfect sense, too, that they’re so wrapped up in it. Chris Martin can sing that every teardrop is a waterfall on any track he likes, and so when those lyrics come on “Paradise” for the first time, it doesn’t feel one bit phony. If anything, the lyrics flow; just as Arcade Fire could engross every song on The Suburbs in its theme- the same words for the same problems- Martin’s newest record (and first since his favourite band’s third) is a successfully didactic and direct body of work. The lyrical themes that circulate like a broken record on Mylo Xyloto may be the first poetic success of Martin’s; on any other Coldplay record, it might be hard to take a line like “you use your heart like a weapon / and it hurts like heaven” into the gut, but Mylo Xyloto isn’t trying to get under the surface. It’s just searching for the biggest reaction and the most fantastic feeling. Everything Martin says here, whether or not he says it over and over again, is justified by how every song on Mylo Xyloto pushes the same buttons. Every song aims to make a waterfall of a teardrop, so why can’t he say it over and over again?
It’s kind of great how at ease I find myself with a Coldplay that can be this repetitive and use the same trick a hundred times over. To hear Rihanna’s absolutely stunning performance on “Princess of China” isn’t a surprise because it simply bolsters the style Coldplay are playing with on this record. Her spot amplifies a song to heights it wasn’t already at, and that’s what Mylo Xyloto seeks in every move it makes forward. This is a Coldplay that wants to build and build to a point like “Fix You” over and over again, a Chris Martin who only cites influence in ideas as ambitious as graffiti and The Wire. The results don’t have to be the same as those things, and so it’s hard to get caught up in the trippy, colourful artwork that the record tries to reflect. Instead, we just bask in “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall,” a song splitting at the sides, huge from start to finish. “Turn the music up!” is Chris Martin’s command on Mylo Xyloto, and it’s probably the only lyric he’ll ever get us nodding to.