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Coldplay : Mylo Xyloto

The difficulty with reviewing Coldplay's latest, is that it's going to be rendered important or successful by the sheer size of their audience. They have, to their credit, remained hugely popular for a decade now; but despite attaining global ubiquity they've yet to really shake things up in the way their forebears Radiohead, R.E.M. and US have in their own culturally impacting careers. They've yet to "do a Kid A" so to speak - though 2008's Viva La Vida came close. Produced by Brian Eno, whose provocative methods did marvellous things for Bowie and the aforementioned U2, he seemed to challenge Coldplay to deliver what was the group's most eclectic and intriguing set yet. So with Eno back on board for Mylo Xyloto you'd expect more winning trips outside of their comfort zone, but for all intents and purposes, it suffers from a bad case of sequel-itis.

It starts promisingly enough, with the instrumental title track segueing into the buzzing Hurts Like Heaven, but quickly teeters dangerously close to 'Coldplay by numbers.' Paradise feels overwhelmingly familiar, featuring a semi-chorus that's better described as nagging than catchy. Even the widescreen ballads that the band have always excelled at seem to suffer. The tinkling, forgettable Charlie Brown and Don't Let It Break Your Heart seem to suffocate beneath their grand arrangements, though they have the energy, they lack the passion and sparkling clarity of a Clocks or The Scientist.

 

The album is proof they're not lacking in ideas, just a solid vessel with which to carry them. Though sonically, it sounds terrific, nothing seems to stick. To be fair, it must be strange to commit yourself to writing a song that will, by virtue of your popularity, inevitably be heard by literally millions of people. But where Coldplay have always managed to offset those gargantuan expectations with their energy and passion, now it seems they're playing up to it.

 

BY AL NEWSTEAD

 

Best Track: Major Minus


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In A Word : Safe

Mylo Xyloto is out now through Parlophone.