Coldplay's Mylo Xyloto is a glossy rock opera
Mylo Xyloto (EMI)
Coldplay is one of the world’s most successful bands, but rock stardom hasn’t made these four British lads complacent. Their fifth album is their most ambitious yet, and it finds Chris Martin and company expanding their sonic palette while stringing together a narrative about two lovers living in an urban dystopia.
Yes, this is a rock opera, but luckily for fans, Mylo Xyloto’s lofty (and fairly silly) concept doesn’t come at the cost of Coldplay’s radio-friendly appeal. All of these tracks—aside from three brief instrumental interludes—function just fine as stand-alone songs. In fact, the lyrics are so vague that you probably won’t even notice that this is a concept album, unless you do a little background research beforehand (like reading this review, say). “Paradise” boasts a swooning, string-laden arrangement and a repetitive, instantly memorable refrain that’s guaranteed to inspire Bic-waving sing-alongs in arenas around the world. Other hook-heavy standouts include the dance-floor-friendly “Hurts Like Heaven” and the Rihanna-assisted R & B anthem “Princess of China”.
The production here is massive, and nearly every song is given a glossy pop sheen. This is further fleshed out with lush ambient flourishes that bear the stamp of collaborator Brian Eno, who receives credit for what a press release calls “enoxification”. The studio polish means that Mylo Xyloto doesn’t contain anything quite as emotionally naked as some of the band’s best-loved hits. Still, even the lack of tearjerkers can’t stop this from being an impressive marriage of high-flown creativity and top-40 immediacy.