Mylo Xyloto – Coldplay
by Jeff Curry (Behavioral Neuroscience), published October 25th 2011
Moldy | Stale | Edible | Fresh | Tasty!
Don’t listen to any professional review that even vaguely attempts to defend Mylo Xyloto. Don’t listen to the (already) thousands of reviews on iTunes welcoming Coldplay’s “recreated sound” on Mylo Xyloto. Instead, just listen to Mylo Xyloto. Sit down with a warm cup of tea and some ibuprofen and take it all in. You will come to see that Mylo Xyloto is not just Coldplay’s worst release to date, but also how much of an indignity this album is to their fans, especially after taking forty months between releases. After announcing that their own debut album Parachutes (which is fantastic, by the way) was terrible in an obvious attempt at overstating this new release, Mylo Xyloto deserves all of your hatred.
In an interview leading up to the release of Mylo Xyloto, singer/songwriter Chris Martin described the album as having a “more stripped-down sound”. This could not be any further from the truth. Opening just about any of the song files in an audio workstation shows a massive flat tube where individual sound waves would normally be visible. With three producers, overproduction is an understatement on MX. The only thing “minimalistic” about this album is the lyrics. In fact, I wouldn’t doubt that Martin’s daughter Apple wrote most of them. “Paradise” is a personal favorite of mine with lyrical gems including “Life goes on, it gets so heavy. The wheel breaks the butterfly. Every tear a waterfall.” I guess Chris struggles with coming up with two individual sets of lyrics much like he does when trying to come up with original song melodies. But more on that later.
It’s actually somewhat challenging to go through and destroy each track individually because they all sound strikingly similar. Almost every song on the album is written to be the next radio smash hit, with the first seven tracks ranging in quality from average at best to absolutely horrendous at worst (I’m looking at you, “Paradise”). Even the interludes–which as history has shown, have been some of Coldplay’s finest moments–are really unnecessarily long introductions, included either as an attempt at being “artistic” or as a convenience to give the listener time to return from the bathroom. Somehow paying homage to the comic strip Peanuts (and apparently 90s hip-hop’s abuse of pitch-modified vocals), the fourth track “Charlie Brown” is supposedly about overcoming failure, though it is hard to distinguish this as about 60% of the song is made up by a moaning chorus of “oohs”. Oh, and adding the melody of Vince Guaraldi’s “Christmastime is Here” at the end is just downright insulting.
The album takes a brief turn for the better with the tracks “Major Minus” and “UFO”. Built around an acoustic guitar riff and a pleasant Radiohead-influenced jam, I have been enjoying the former since its early release on the Teardrop EP. “UFO” brings back some of the simple acoustic elements of Parachutes, which are somewhat ironic based on the band’s sudden hatred of their debut. Unfortunately, after about six minutes, the enjoyment ends via the album’s most unparalleled moment of failure, “Princess of China”, a synth-based track that sounds like a B-side to a recent Black Eyed Peas record. The song also features guest vocals from Rihanna. Of all people, Coldplay picks Rihanna. All jokes aside (of which there are many), she’s just not a good singer. But neither of these are what seal the deal. Remember when Coldplay ripped the melody out of that Joe Satriani track for “Viva la Vida”? They did it again–this time, with the Vietnamese song ” Ra Ngo Tung Kinh (Chanting at The Alley)”–and the similarity is astounding. But surely nobody would ever find out.
The original trend of the album reprises with four more tracks ranging from average to terrible (“Don’t Let It Break Your Heart” and “Up in Flames”, respectively), ending with “Up with the Birds”, a miserably bland attempt at a 4 minute rock opera. Coldplay. C’mon. Parachutes and A Rush of Blood to the Head are two of my favorite albums ever. X&Y and Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends are also exceptional. Previous tracks like “Amsterdam” and “Trouble” still give me goosebumps. With this in mind, I had very high hopes for Coldplay’s fifth album, but from the second the lyrics of “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” were uploaded to their official Facebook, I knew that Mylo Xyloto was going to be rough. But with another plagiarized single, lyrics that sound like they were written by a seven year old girl, and corny synths akin to LMFAO, this is a level of inadequacy far beyond words, something even Chris Martin couldn’t write.
Recommended Tracks: Major Minus, UFO