For the most part, I honestly don’t have much of a problem with Coldplay. In fact, I sympathize with them a little bit. I remember hearing and enjoying “Yellow” way back when, and I remember becoming fairly attached to “A Rush of Blood to the Head” through a particularly heart-crushing episode of Six Feet Under. It’s easy to forget, sometimes, that there was a point when they weren’t U2-lite because of their aesthetic, but because of their strange ability to weave together a pretty song. I still find myself slightly intrigued when I hear news of what they’re doing. I know admitting to enjoying Coldplay is, now, a taboo, but it really doesn’t matter; I’ve never believed in the principle of guilty pleasures, anyway. They’re a band who are entirely nonthreatening, and they never, ever challenge you. Sometimes, that’s not a bad thing. And yes, I know that statement is probable cause to be written off entirely.
So, let’s get it out of the way right off the bat: Mylo Xyloto (whatever-the-hell that means; I have been told it’s Latin for “Miley Cyrus”) is a Coldplay record. I won’t say that it’s “amazing” or “terrible,” because it’s neither. It’s not as great as A Rush of Blood to the Head was, but it’s not the U2-jocking, faux-romantic, pure-wankery of the record that came after that one, X&Y. It’s about as down-to-earth as Parachutes, but has the soaring moments of Viva La Vida, or Death and All His Friends. The lyrics aren’t as good as that of “The Scientist,” but they’re never as bad as “Speed of Sound.” As said, it’s just a Coldplay record.
So, what exactly is Mylo Xyloto, then? It’s probably the best example of what Coldplay do well. It’s a 14-song album that will be beloved by NPR-listening, minivan-driving soccer moms, by heart-on-sleeve teenage boys and girls alike, and by that friend who “loves all kinds of music.” Don’t interpret this to be a bad thing; really, it’s not.
From the get-go, on “Mylo Xyloto,” the album feels like a Coldplay record always has. It’s :43 seconds of sonic build-up to some of the brightest work you’ve ever heard from Brian Eno. “Hurts Like Heaven” somehow feels different than any other song we’ve heard from the band previously, though it’s hard to put a finger on why. That’s the feeling you get in certain places on the record: it’s almost like, after five records and 15 years as a band, they’ve settled into themselves a bit more. It still sounds like a band bred from the same arena-rock stock as U2, fronted by a man who went to the Thom Yorke School of Vocals, but at the same time, it’s as if they’ve allowed those things to fall into their own sound, rather than forcing it to sound like that. It makes Mylo a more interesting record, one that doesn’t blend into the background like the rest have. It’s a pleasant thing.
Still, there are bits that just fade away. The album’s first single “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” falls flat for the most part, and “Princess of China,” a song that should feel more like an event (what, with the inclusion of goddamn Rihanna) is almost totally forgettable on the first handful of listens. “Paradise,” the record’s second single, is the only one of the songs on the album that feels like a single that actually feels like it has a pulse. The album has a beating heart, but it sometimes forgets it.
Will you enjoy Mylo Xyloto? I don’t see why not; Coldplay’s worst crime is being unoriginal, and often times boring and forgettable. They’ve never quite made a bad record, just a few records that failed to soar and inspire. Simply put, even if you don’t like them, I really can’t see hating this record. It’s not there to challenge you in any way, it’s just there for you to listen to, and maybe sing along with. Give it a try. They’re getting better.