People, whether it's fair or not, hate Coldplay. Long considered purveyors of the kind of generic background alterna-pop that plays over the end credits of every chick-flick made since 1995, their lack of artistic credibility is palpable. Everybody knows this, even the members of Coldplay themselves.
In a recent interview with Spin, lead singer Chris Martin seemed to agree. "Maybe it's because I'm English, but in terms of how people perceive us I only pick up on the negative side of it. I always feel like the big bad outside world just fucking hates us."
However, there is a curious fact about Coldplay that nobody really mentions: their last 3 albums have debuted at the very top of the Billboard Chart. People are buying these records, and surely some of those people love Coldplay. Their new album, "Mylo Xyloto", does its very best to prove these invisible people right, and in some very big ways, it even succeeds.
Lead-off single "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall" is ambitious in a way that somehow seems simultaneously forward thinking and classic. The song feels like a one-off collaboration between Paul Simon and The Strokes. The cynical minded will surely cringe at lyrics like "I turn the music up, I got my records on/I shut the world outside until the lights come on", but that's sort of the point. If the track appeared on "Born in The USA", it would be praised as simple and direct.
The distorted acoustic guitar that opens "Major Minus" creates a claustrophobic mood far better than Radiohead have since "The Bends", and that's before Martin's spooky lyrics like "We got one eye watching you/and one eye on what to do/so be careful who it is you're talking to" kick in.
A few other tracks are standouts, like new single "Paradise", a track that somehow works despite the seemingly haphazard arrangement. The song literally has everything: a Kanye West-style back-beat, sweeping strings, hopeful lyrics, strange keyboard flourishes, topped off with an anthemic, wordless chorus. The kitchen sink philosophy of songwriting continues with "Charlie Brown", another stellar moment that, though it isn't a ripoff, wouldn't exactly sound out of place on an early Arcade Fire album.
The troubling spots are rare, but they stop the album dead in its tracks. The acoustic ballad "Us Against The World" is as bland and generic as anything they've ever recorded. "M.M.I.X." is pointless instrumental electronica and has no place on the album, even as an interlude. It's another self-conscious moment for a band still struggling with the idea of being taken seriously. If they'd only stop being so concerned with greatness, one day they might actually achieve it. "Mylo Xyloto" is, however, the closest they've come so far.