Coldplay: 'Viva La Vida...' Review.zip (All mp3's) (Link 2)
Eventually, my review and judgment of this album would be posted. As it should. And after the initial indecision, I'm not afraid to pass final verdict on Coldplay's new album. It's brilliant. Affirming, even.
They might not have realised it, with the money pouring in, but Coldplay had a great deal riding on this album. In recent times, increasing numbers of have turned against them, and even their most stalwart fans were beginning understand that three albums of similar (but quality) music is enough. We want more. And in my honest opinion, we got it.
Coldplay- Death And All His Friends/ The Escapist
To review this album, you really have to examine your stance. I'm not interested in Coldplay bashing, and I don't really give a crap that Chris and Gwyneth named their child 'Apple'. I am (as most of you are) here for the music. So whilst I don't want to come across as attacking the media, publications like The Times and The Guardian need to be careful- they got what they wished for with this album, so why did it receive a rating of 3/5? I will explore that later on.
With Brian Eno at the helm, it comes as no surprise then, that Coldplay are slowly turning into U2. However, thankfully they won't stop at that. They might just do the once over on Bono and his mates. The comparison comes across most convincingly on album highlight 'Lovers In Japan/Reign Of Love'. Using this album as a reference point, they are arguably more famous, with their compositions more stadium worthy. Bono, Edge and crew are getting on, and whilst Chris is also losing his hair, Coldplay's music sounds fresh, with a maturity nurtured over the 12 years since their formation.
Coldplay- Lost! (Live At Brixton)
Courtesy of JP's blog
The attention to detail is impressive, with songs such as 'Lost!' coming together only after being built around a strange sort of tribal beat. Needless to say, the fully fleshed out album version moved on from the acoustic recording that 'leaked' weeks before the album. The small features that at first seem improbable and irrelevant are what makes this an 'album'. Listen to 'Strawberry Swing' and it might strike you as slightly unremarkable at first. Over time, though, it will reveal its tricks.
Songs like 'Fix You' are a mile away (in tone, not stadium potential), and their latest album is more concerned with death, most obviously on 'Cemeteries Of London' and '42': "those who are dead are not dead... they're just living in my head". The latter undergoes a transformation half way through, from an eerie chant to a section which disguises it's melancholy tone with a boosted rhythm section: 'you thought you might be a ghost... you didn't get to heaven but you made it close'.
Coldplay- Cemeteries Of London
Risks are always welcome in modern music, the age of Autotune and GarageBand beats: 'Life In Technicolour' is a strong instrumental opening. It was originally accompanied by vocals, but when the band's close friends highlighted it as a potential first single, they removed them, instead opting for the occasional cheer. We should applaud them for their bravery.
Coldplay- Life In Technicolour (Live At Brixton)
Courtesy of JP's blog
For the first time in their career, Coldplay have markedly changed their image, dressing up as French Revolution soldiers. This image change, however, isn't as intelligent as it comes across. As a commenter pointed out, the album art is completely conflicting with this idea, using a French Painting with one of Frida Kahlo's titles: 'Viva La Vida'. A French painting with a Spanish title? Hang on a minute.
With their new image comes a revamped musical style: their double title motifs allow for a great deal more experimentation. And whilst with the underlying themes of this album you might be wondering about Chris' mental health (especially after walking out of a BBC interview), this new feature gives us twice as many things to love in each song. 'Yes! /Chinese Sleep Chant' flips between a meandering string piece and a guitar section with a boosted tempo. It's brilliant music.
Coldplay- Yes/Chinese Sleep Chant
This is far and away the most musically accomplished album that Coldplay have penned. It also helps that most of the released singles will go top 10, and the album will be found in many 'best of 2008' lists. In 'Viva La Vida', Coldplay have found their first number 1 single, and also a piece of music so perfect that you will learn the words, even if you don't want to.
Coldplay- Viva La Vida (Live At Brixton)
Courtesy of JP's blog
They still have peaks to climb. To convert their critics, album number 5 will have to do something truly special. It appears that between the band and music critics, the power of 'Viva La Vida...' has largely been lost in translation. This fact is saddening, but at the same time empowering; the album debuted at number 1, regardless of press intrusion. Coldplay have an endearing fanbase that will buy their records, on faith alone. I haven't always been complimentary, but it's encouraging to see that NME of all people (some of the most critical people on the block) gifted 'Viva La Vida...' a solid 8/10. The two lost points (in both our reviews) are purely because the album doesn't live up to Brian Eno's quote: that this is the sound of a band “living at the edge of their possibilities”. Not quite... that's for next time.
I would propose an ultimatum for their detractors. Think hard about it: when you think about the simple things, what do Coldplay lack? Are they inferior musicians? No. Is Chris Martin unable to sing? No. Do they write simple, occasionally emotionally stirring music. Yes. And at this point in their career, that it what it comes down to. We should understand if people are unable to appreciate these facts, as music is extremely subjective, but you can learn to love the things you love to hate. Don't compare this album to some milestone which doesn't actually exist. No one writes music that good.
I might be biased, but does that really matter? Sometimes the beauty of music is forged in the relationship between performer and listener. And with Coldplay- arguably the most radio-friendly band of the last ten years- we have most definitely been made a part of their music. 'Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends' is an essential album, whether you love or hate the band. They came, they won some friends/enemies, they changed for the better, and once again, they have conquered.
'Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends' can be purchased at Amazon and iTunes.