Album: Coldplay, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (Parlophone)

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The Independent Culture

There's always a chilling feeling of trepidation the first time you play an album which is guaranteed to be absolutely inescapable for the next 12 months. It's a feeling which is yet more acute in the case of Coldplay, a band whose influence on rock in the last decade has been both massive and malign.

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If 'Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends' is as influential as its three predecessors, then sales of reverb pedals will rocket. Lennonesque echo is all over it, adding ersatz gravitas to pseudo-profundities like "Those who are dead are not dead, they're just living in my head". It's a tentative step in the direction of the experimental, but without going far enough to frighten the horses (or the Tesco shoppers). The 'Viva La Vida' sound is expansive (and indeed expensive). It tintinnabulates and whooshes, and enlists Eastern instruments – shorthand, to the banal of brain, for "spiritual". On "Yes/Chinese Sleep Chant" they deliver the album's big U2 moment, with Chris Martin, perhaps incongruously for someone who went straight from university in to a band, delivering dramatic lines like "I used to roll the dice/Feel the fear in my enemy's eyes". This album is a beautifully designed great big nothing.

Pick of the Album: The album in a seven-minute microcosm: 'Viva La Vida'