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Colorful Mix of Old and New in Coldplay’s ‘Mylo Xyloto’

Claire Stephens | Wednesday, October 26, 2011

After several years of working on the album in a vacant church in North London, Coldplay has finally released its fifth album, “Mylo Xyloto,” this week, ending fans’ long wait.

A colorful mix of quiet and comforting songs, bright and energetic rock and a Coldplay-flavored electronic sound, “Mylo Xyloto” is an album to please ardent fans and mainstream audiences alike.

Lead singer Martin told “The Philadelphia Inquirer” that the album is a concept album based on the story of Mylo and Xyloto, protagonists who meet in an urban environment through a gang and fall in love.

“Mylo Xyloto” offers the sound of Martin’s calming vocals that avid fans of Coldplay’s softer rock have come to recognize from past albums like “Parachutes” and “A Rush of Blood to the Head.” Several instances of major acoustical focus bring the intimate, romantic side of the Mylo Xyloto love story out.

Hints of the art rock from the “Viva La Vida” album and an edgier focus on rock add another dimension to the album, as well as bits of a light indie sound here and there. And as usual, the unique quality of the band’s instrumentals can enchant the listener so thoroughly, until they awaken in another part of the song to realize the style and pace has changed entirely without them noticing.

“Every Teardrop is a Waterfall,” arguably one of the band’s best singles yet, broke the Coldplay dry spell in June, following the tradition of rock songs like “Viva La Vida” and “Yellow” with an infectious, upbeat pop-rock twist you’ll be humming for days. The fun, easy vocals are married perfectly to the foot-tapping beat of the always-impressive alternative rock instrumentals.

The second single released, “Paradise,” mixes mellow, psychedelic rock mixed with the cool vocals of Chris Martin and Will Champion’s airy harmonies, giving audiences the Coldplay music they expect with a new sound to surprise and excite them.

The beautiful, multicolored graffiti art on the album and the vibrant music video for “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall,” reflect the fusion of the group’s famous soothing ballads, high spirited rock and the electrifying and enchanting new electronic sounds added to the Coldplay genre.

“Princess of China (feat. Rihanna)” will likely outshine all the others and represents the perfect combination of tradition and change on the new album. The intriguing collaboration beautifully injects Rihanna’s vocals into the Coldplay genre without detracting from the charming female element of her voice. Martin and Rihanna’s duets take turns arresting the attention of the listener and fading into the music as vocal instruments.

A hybrid of sounds by itself, “Princess of China” mixes engaging synth sounds with a heavy weight on the rock beat and the signature ethereal ingredient to create a heartbreaking song you can’t listen to just once.

Though each song can stand on its own as a work of art in a different piece of the colorful puzzle of styles, they transition seamlessly with short instrumental pieces between songs that blend them together as one story. These minute-or-less transitions put the 14-song album at less than 45 minutes, but Coldplay definitely has placed quality over quantity.

As its European tour stops for 2011 rapidly sell out, it is obvious Coldplay has proved themselves once again to be an alternative rock band to satisfy a global audience. The album offers an array of sounds to enjoy separately or together as a collage of a colorful collaboration of music. Coldplay’s versatility within its unique style and consistently impressive performances as musicians is established in “Mylo Xyloto.”

Contact Claire Stephens at cstephe4@nd.edu