Coldplay- Viva La Vida

When I first saw Coldplay they were a supporting band, the globe that adorns their debut album was on top of Chris Martin’s piano and they had a few good songs, what a long way they’ve come to reach album number four, a fresh start and a new era, according to the band. It seems to have become fashionable to knock Coldplay and specifically Martin with his campaigning, Hollywood wife and fruit based children, but if you can put that to one side and concentrate on the music you will hear a band making incredibly challenging steps to make the best record of their career to date. Gone are the obvious ‘hits’ and sing-along songs replaced by experimentation not just of the sound but of the structures of each composition. Straight away lead track ‘Life in Technicolour’ strikes you as different partly because it’s instrumental but also because it signals the start of the directional change that you can expect from rest of the album. Huge swathing organs and layers of guitar fill out the sound that was so sparse on the last record, is this the influence of producer Brian Eno? whatever the reason it creates a constant wall of sound rather than just crescendos. Next up is ‘Centimetres of London’ an eerie ghost march through spirituality it is much darker than anything they have done before. ‘Lost’ continues the theme and broods along still sounding like its Coldplay at the controls but never quite sure where they are going. ‘42’ is a beast of a track with heavy guitars at the forefront; it’s a moody full circle lament on death which breaks down revealing a song within a song before revisiting the start. ‘Lovers in Japan’ and hidden track ‘Reign of love’ are the first glimpse we get of the Coldplay of old, with subtle piano and familiar riffs. ‘Yes’ begins with strange middle eastern guitar strums which instantly give the song character, then its hidden track number two ‘Chinese sleep chant’ which is a mass swirl of guitars that are reminiscent of Ride or My Bloody Valentine. Album title track ‘Viva La Vida’ is next and for me one of the stand out tracks of this record, seven glorious minutes of church bells, strings and an overall aura of optimism. ‘Violet Hill’ the first single to be taken from here is probably the most catchy and easy to pick up but in the context of the whole it does sound a little out of place. ‘Strawberry Swing’ is for me the only disappointing song, its Beatles experimentation and whimsy means it meanders along at a psychedelic pace never really going anywhere. Final track ‘Death and all his Friends’ starts slowly before building in to a euphoric epic of strings, pounding drums and a choir, it’s a real album closer which makes hidden track three seem like a bit of a waste. So in conclusion it may divide fans, something I’m sure the band aren’t too concerned about, its not perfect by any means but it’s a good record. Is it their ‘Kid A’/’Amnesiac’? well kind of  but if that’s the case then in a few years we can expect their ‘In Rainbows’ and then maybe they will be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the like of Radiohead and U2. But for now rejoice in the fact that of all the directions they could have gone in they have, at least at this juncture, chosen the right one.

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