Album: Coldplay, Viva La Vida, or Death and All His Friends (Parlophone)
Friday 06 June 2008
Coldplay's X&Y, they've since explained, was the final part of a trilogy – a claim some might consider a cunning defence against accusations that they're a one-trick pony mining a stadium-filling formula to death. Whichever way one takes it, it leaves the globe-girdling anthem-mongers with quite a mountain to climb on Viva La Vida.
Click here to preview or buy Viva La Vida, Or Death And All His Friends
Their Sherpa Tensing on this tough ascent is Brian Eno, sonic enabler to the stars, doubtless drafted in for his success in keeping U2 more or less on their game, and famed for his idiosyncratic approach to the producer's job (on one occasion, he suggested Bono and his chums take a holiday). But it's hard to hear any specifically Eno-esque cast to the sound of Viva La Vida, save for the soaring synth pad behind the tack-piano march of "Lovers In Japan". And one suspects his hand may have been behind the oddly contradictory effect gained by layering tiny tendrils of backward guitar behind the Bo Diddley beat of "Strawberry Swing", which is the most notable thing about the track: certainly, whenever it slips into passages of strummed acoustic guitar, the song all but dissolves away to nothing.
The album opens in a shimmer of keyboards with "Life In Technicolor", building over two minutes of dulcimer and drums before giving way to "Cemeteries of London", a faux-folk piece built from wisps of U2-ish guitar and piano, whipped along by galloping drums. A similarly bustling clatter of dohl drums and offbeat handclaps powers "Lost!", though the uncharacteristic industry disguises what is a typical Coldplay lyrical trope ("Just because I'm losing doesn't mean I'm lost"). It's the first hint that, whatever their intentions, Coldplay will struggle to shake off their old ways; the second comes hot on its heels with "42", a multi-sectioned piece about death ("Those who are dead are not dead, they're just living in my head").
"Viva La Vida" itself likewise cleaves to a Coldplay staple, in this case that of devising a simple, memorable melody line and ramming it home through endless repetition. It adopts an oddly chipper tone for a song about a former leader fallen on hard times, but makes an apt pairing with the cantering battle fantasy "Violet Hill", yet another example, with "Cemeteries of London", "42" and "Death and All His Friends", of the album's fascination with death. The purported passing of their former style, however, has been greatly exaggerated, though whether the attempt here to chart a new musical course will lead anywhere as imposing remains to be heard. This is pretty average stuff.
Pick of the album: 'Strawberry Swing', '42', 'Lost!'
Review: A panoramic account of the hacking scandalbooks
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Russell Brand accuses FOX News anchor Sean Hannity of terrorism after aggressive Israel-Gaza debate
- 2 Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness – including don’t try to convert other people
- 3 Arturo Vidal to Manchester United: Midfielder set to force through move to Louis van Gaal's Red Devils - reports
- 4 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 5 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
Game of Thrones actress begs for 'other princess work' after Myrcella Baratheon part is recast
New Netflix releases: Films and TV shows coming August 2014
Star Wars Episode 7: Simon Pegg hints at role
Palestinian artists transform smoke-filled Gaza into symbol of resistance
Guardians of the Galaxy - review: A superficial and half-hearted Marvel film
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
- < Previous
- Next >