Whether you love them or hate them Coldplay are without a doubt one of the biggest bands in the world right now and have remained so for the best part of a decade. As such, each release is a landmark milestone both for Chris Martin and company as well as the entire music industry as a whole. 'Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends' released back in 2008 made hugely lucrative sales globally, becoming the world's best selling album that year, an achievement that speaks for itself. Whether 'Mylo Xyloto' reaps the same rewards is yet to be seen as criticisms levelled at the band's similarities to U2 and downbeat style have lead to claims by Martin that the new album is a stripped down and upbeat departure from the standard fair expected of the band. In a way Coldplay are attempting to shed their own stigma whilst living up to their worldwide reputation, is this an impossible task?
Annoyingly for all the haters out there, it seems that on first listen Martin has succeeded in fulfilling the claims made in the lead up to the albums release. Immediately the style is a departure from previous morose stylings as 'Hurts Like Heaven' transcends its angsty name by kicking off proceedings with distinctly warm chord progressions complimented by a rolling staccato drum beat.
'Mylo Xyloto' is a concept album chronicling the journey undergone by two lovers: Mylo and Xyloto who reside within a dystopian urban environment populated by gangs. The result is a track list that blends beautifully thanks to the production efforts of Markus Dravs, Daniel Green and Rik Simpson. Much like a good DJ mix the combination of songs fluctuate high and low, documenting the highs and lows of the lovers' relationship. Immediately this renders the album infinitely more varied than band's previous efforts whilst at the same time retaining the elements that have left the band surrounded by intrigue.
Whilst the track list is undeniably consistent in its quality there are certain standard out songs that exhibit just what heights Coldplay can aspire to. Second single 'Paradise' is a great example of Martin's capabilities as a singer, using his vocals to cascade along the rhythm of the track with ease, complimented by the added colour of a choir. 'Major Minus' marks the albums middle point beautifully, beginning with an acoustic riff that builds to an almost mancunian cooing from Martin in the guitar led chorus. The solo on the track in particular displays a huge amount of prowess that draws upon the huge wealth of influences Coldplay choose to incorporate into their songwriting.
It's not all roses and butterflies however as the acoustic side of the LP falls indefinitely flat and in many ways forms the more pretentious and indulgent side of the album. As Martin has said in interviews he has attempted to strip down the band's sound, even going so far as to flirt with the idea of 'Mylo Xyloto' being an acoustic album. Thank god it isn't.
All in all, after all the hype, 'Mylo Xyloto' certainly meets, if not exceeds expectations, despite the best efforts of Martin. Yes they are the marmite of the music industry and not everyone is going to want to chow down on an album this rich but those who take the time to do so will thoroughly enjoy the journey. Coldplay are a band that are constantly striving (very vocally) to improve themselves as they continue through their lucrative career in music, whether you like them or not this is undeniably an admirable excursion.