Monday, February 27, 2012

Coldplay's Mylo Xyloto -- Warmer A Few Months, Many Listens Later

As many readers of my blog and tweets know, I am a passionate music fan. So, I sometimes sprinkle my digital media musings with my own music reviews and recommendations. And, over time, Coldplay has been one of my longtime favorites -- I discovered them back in Europe well before anyone heard of them in the U.S. -- the song "Yellow" immediately hooked me.

I originally reviewed Coldplay's latest album, Mylo Xyloto, when it first dropped several months ago. And, I called it Coldplay's "Cold Play", giving it only 2 of 5 stars and essentially proclaiming it their worst album to date. Click here to read my track-by-track review.

Interestingly, since that time, I have listened to the album several times -- and have rethought and softened my stance. My conclusion? I was overly harsh the first time. And, while Mylo Xyloto certainly isn't the bands best album, it nonetheless is a worthy part of the band's overall catalog -- worthy of at least 3 of 5 stars.

Here is my revised track-by-track review --

(1) "Mylo Xyloto" -- still essentially unreviewable -- it is an intro after all;

(2) "Hurts Like Heaven" -- my original feeling hasn't changed much here -- this is the album's opening track; I heard one of the band members on Sirius XM radio saying that they chose this song to open the album because it was different than anything they have recorded before; well, that can be a good or bad thing -- here, it ain't good. While the upbeat song sounds pleasant enough, there is no substance. Think of it as ear candy. It comes and goes without making any lasting impact. Next ....

(3) "Paradise" -- I still love this song -- this is the album's second single -- and the stand-out track. THIS is what Coldplay is all about. Beautiful soaring melodies. Passion. This will become a stadium sing-a-long -- but, the only one from the album.

(4) "Charlie Brown" -- I originally called this song upbeat fluff -- synth pop with no substance. Well, months later, I fall on my sword -- this is a worthy track -- and worthy single.

(5) "Us Against the World" -- my feeling here doesn't change; from the building pointilism of the guitars, to the spare, soft and gruff vocal by Chris Martin, this U2-like track is a keeper. Coldplay is frequently compared to U2 -- and this one is the only track on this album that fits that bill. This one could be found on U2's "Joshua Tree" album -- it is beautiful. But, Bono would sing it better .... Nonetheless, this one is worth the wait.

(6) "M.M.I.X." -- this is an ambient intro track -- producer Brian Eno in full force here -- leads us to the next track. Not reviewable.

(7) "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall" -- I continue to find the album's first single to be largely forgettable in a private listen -- but, the song will play well in concert in a stadium. So, I have softened my resistance a bit here.

(8) "Major Minus" -- my original words still ring true for me here -- up-tempo again -- and the chorus sounds a bit U2-like once again (although the rest of the song doesn't). But, the U2-like chorus is U2 when it is off its game (which also happens). In other words, this one doesn't work. Once again, skip on to the next ....

(9) "U.F.O." -- every Coldplay album needs at least one song with Chris Martin singing alone -- and simply -- over an acoustic guitar for the most part. This is that one on this album. But, while the melodies usually are beautiful for this formula, this one is forgettable ... sadly. Again, a big disappointment.

(10) "Up in Flames" -- again, not much changes here for my review and reaction; this down-tempo spare track is just that -- a downer. Cold. Dull. A throw-away (athough it didn't have to be that way). Is this really one of the top 14 tracks (11 really) that Chris Martin and the boyz could pen in the period of 3 years? I certainly hope not. But, somehow it did find its way onto the album. Skip it.

(11) "A Hopeful Transmission" -- this is the third and final less-than-one-minute intro tracks. Nothing to review -- but the next one is.

(12) "Don't Let It Break Your Heart" -- as I originally wrote, this one is inspired and is a stand-out track on the album. Soaring! Inspired! Big! This one will fill the arena. This one stirs the soul. Coldplay can do that when they are "on." This one is. Some others on this album aren't. Keep this one. Everyone will be on their feet for this one.

(13) "Up With the Birds" -- this one almost closes the album -- and it begins in typical "album closing mode" with Chris Martin, once again, singing sparely. It then builds. And the "build" is stronger than the spare intro. A middling track. Not memorable. Not a throw-away either. At least it belongs on a Coldplay album ... but by a thread.

(14) "Princess of China" -- I didn't like this track then, and I still don't like it now -- well lookie lookie here -- Rihanna joins the band for this one. But who doesn't Rihanna join at this point? Exciting possibilities, right? Wrong. She is largely wasted. As is the band itself. As a closing track on the album, it leaves me cold. No passion yet again. Much like the first real track, it is ear candy. It tastes alright. But then it's gone. No lasting impact.

And, voila -- there it is -- I now give the album 3 stars out of 5.