Thursday, July 3

June - Album of Last Month

I posted this up on July 1 but for some strange reason it's been taken down. So here it is again, this time without the 'Lovers In Japan/Reign Of Love' downloading option...

Coldplay - Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends - Parlophone
“Everyone might not like this. We’re into it at the moment, so let’s just get it done,” spoke Chris Martin earlier this year, leader of one of the world’s most triumphant bands and the most self-deprecating man in soft rock.
This was an allusion that after the ‘trilogy’ of ‘Parachutes’, ‘A Rush Of Blood To The Head’ and ‘X&Y’, he and the rest of Coldplay had decided to loop themselves in a new path. Via the assistance of two legendary producers in Brian Eno and Markus Dravs, this was all in order to formulate ‘Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends’, made in a bakery, a nunnery, a magic shop and a church.
Following three long years of delay and expectation, what comes across from ‘Viva La Vida’ is not so much a different Coldplay, but more a transformed one. There are braver chord structures, obscure yet stirring landscapes, and even shorter song lengths. But resting at the crux of nearly every of these ten tracks that sit comfortably on here is, well, Coldplay. Everyone might not like this because not everyone likes Coldplay. But for those that have taken any or all of the band’s first three efforts into their heart, it’s hard to see why they’d turn away after this.
The record opens with ‘Life In Technicolor’, a near-instrumental which rises at every layer of jangly acoustic guitar, casually tiding into ‘Cemeteries Of London’. Picking up where ‘X&Y’’s ‘A Message’ left off, it’s a dark affair steadily drifting by way of persistent handclaps and ghostly keys. Images of ancient London at night can’t help but pierce through your mind. The lingering church organs of ‘Lost!’ though truly take things up a notch, as Martin’s rousing line, “Just because I’m losing, doesn’t mean I’m lost,” rings out above all.
The record’s halfway point and shining light is ‘Lovers In Japan/Reign Of Love’, the first of three two-in-one tracks. The first draws on the kind of addictive ambience and uplifting sentiment that made these so world-famous in the first place. The latter catches Martin engrossed in charming piano whooshes, as well as Eno’s typically great soundscapes. Absolutely dazzling, and so far, so rather flawless. ‘Yes’’ fuse of Martin’s low tones and North African string-and-tablas doesn’t come off as well as wished. But points for bravery, and even more so in the My Bloody Valentine-enthused ‘Chinese Sleep Chant’ hiding afterwards.
New single ‘Viva La Vida’ is up there with ‘Fix You’ and ‘Yellow’ as one of the greatest few minutes they’ve ever finished. But then comes ‘Violet Hill’, the no doubt label-required front single and most diluted song on here. ‘Strawberry Swing’ though is another utter highlight, where the afro-pop colouring tried before now makes total sense, traversing below some bizarre word play about cold water. ‘Death And All His Friends’ is the ultimate conclusion, summing up the stimulation and encouragement these transport to so, so many. “No I don’t want to battle from beginning to end, I don’t want a cycle of recycled revenge, I don’t want to follow death and all of his friends.”
‘Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends’ is an almost unblemished record. If post-‘X&Y’ Coldplay went back and made an even bigger-sounding record, some might question not only their motives but also their flair. But they didn’t. They went and made an album reflective of their want to genuinely better themselves, full of some remarkable moments. Points for bravery, and points for a superb effort.
Coldplay Myspace