Coldplay’s latest album sounds amazing, but seriously lacks lyrical depth. A problem that almost cancels out the amazing sound.
Chris Martin is on record as saying that writing lyrics is not his strong suite. (In so many words.) However, when Coldplay released their first album, Parachutes, Martin’s lyrics, lullaby-ish as they may have been, were both, charming in their simplicity and haunting in the way they described situations and emotions. Look no further then cuts like Shiver, Yellow and We Never Change, for examples of successful emotional lyrics.
Coldplay’s fifth album, Mylo Xyloto, is a melodious pop music adventure. Working with Brian Eno, the band lays sounds over more sounds and head bopping rhythms to build aural masterpieces. Songs like Paradise, Charlie Brown, and Every Teardrop is a Waterfall are instantly colorful and exciting. The highlight of the album, Princess of China, features Rihanna singing verse and hook along with Martin and competes with Paradise for the title of Catchiest Song.
What’s also impressive is that the album isn’t a load of computer generated sounds. There are some, but it’s mostly the band playing their instruments really fast. And even the slower, less complexly crafted songs like Up in Flames and U.F.O have well placed sharps and flats that are emotionally moving. It’s these tracks that sound most like classic Coldplay.
But as Coldplay has advanced and changed melodically, they seem to have devolved, lyrically. In place of the charming simplicity of the first album or the heartbreaking poetry and commentary of the second, we get plain, general cliches. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with singing about the positive, and Coldplay has done their share. But this time around, themes of love and getting over heartbreak and picking yourself up when you’re down, feel more like filler and tired repetition instead of thoughtful expressions.
It not as if Coldplay has sold themselves out. At least not intentionally. Chris Martin still has the same soulful falsetto he’s always had, with even more seasoned control of his voice. And he sounds genuine throughout the entire disc. He believes what he’s singing and what the group is playing. But there just isn’t enough here to grasp, emotionally. It’s as if, in trying to make an album for everybody, they forgot to make it for somebody. They’re still great musicians. Here’s hoping that the band’s next effort has more fury and substance behind all that sound.