Album Review: Mylo Xyloto

Myloxyloto-1 Mylo Xyloto (2011)

Album Rating: 2.5/5
Album Length: Just Right
Album Feel: No

Coldplay enters their second decade as a band with Mylo Xyloto, their first album in 3 years.  At times they return to their older acoustic style, but as expected the band has added new elements.  The orchestral strings, electronic sound effects and increased piano usage make the songs sound fresh, although also strikingly similar.  “Hurts Like Heaven”, “Don’t Let it Break Your Heart”, “Ever Teardrop is a Waterfall” and “Paradise” are all upbeat and overly positive, with choruses that are loud and somewhat overwhelming.   But with time, the subtle differences make certain songs stand out.

The album’s lead single “Ever Teardrop is a Waterfall” is mixed beautifully, starting with a loud synth that, as the song progresses, builds and is seamlessly replaced with the band’s standard rock sound.  An acoustic guitar takes over the main chords and electric guitar flurries are layered on top to fill in the spaces.  The drums are barely noticeable until the song’s peek, where the song explodes with noise.

The strings, distorted guitar and synths in “Paradise” create a wall of sound during the loud chorus that’s similar to a dubstep drop, but the verses are peaceful and light hearted, making a nice and even mix of the two extremes in style.  Other songs try this as well but fail, like “Princess of China,” which features Rihanna as part of a duet.  The effects are just too over the top, and there are moments that sound more like an arcade game theme song than a pop song.

“Major Minus” is the only true alternative rock song on the album.   On this darker track, Chris Martin’s voice echoes with the lead guitar’s delayed harmonics, creating space as opposed to the full sounds on the other songs.  The minimalism in the bridge and guitar solo sounds a lot like something The Edge would come up with.

The acoustic songs “U.F.O.” and “Up Against The World” are a much more personal encounter, not only because they’re softer, but also because their lyrical superiority make them stand out.  Martin’s clearly in his comfort zone here.  The sincerity in his voice melds flawlessly with the serine string section.  However not all the peaceful songs are good.  “Up in Flames” has a basic drum sample and lazy piano part that seems too familiar, along with the chorus’s repetitive and boring lyrics that make the song stagnant and unenthusiastic.

Unlike Coldplay’s other albums, Mylo Xyloto doesn’t sound like a complete work, and the tracks just don’t fit together that well.  Yes they all sound similar, and there are songs that meld together with one another, but they’re missing a fluidity that’s present in Parachutes and X&Y.  For this Mylo Xyloto probably won’t go down as Coldplay’s best album, but there’s still plenty for music fans to work with.

  • Key Tracks: “UFO”, “Charlie Brown”, “Up with the Birds”
  • Worst tracks: “Up In Flames”, “Princess of China”

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