Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Review : Album : Coldplay - Viva La Vida

Coldplay is like the ex-girlfriend I'm deciding to give another go, after she decides to knock off the nonsense and step up to the plate. X&Y was Coldplay's nonsense and now Viva La Vida is stepping up to the plate. The album makes up for the disappointment X&Y left in many hearts four years ago. For me, it secures Coldplay's place in the list of bands who have changed their sound without sacrificing quality.


'Lost!' - After about ten or so listens, this is my favorite song on the album. Why is this track so critical? The position on the album. It is a jolt to the heart of Viva La Vida's life. 'Living in Technicolor' and 'Cemeteries Of London' are not strong enough to make you step back and be impressed with Coldplay's revolutionary album"; 'Lost!' is. Two very key aspects to this song. First, the percussion. It knocks you in the face with a tribal beat and one of my favorite elements; hand clap! This steady base endures through the song and is what makes it great. Second, the organ chord progression is very catchy. I almost didn't want Chris to start singing his predictable lyrics. However, he doesn't do too bad in this one. "Just because I'm hurting, doesn't mean I'm hurt." And you can tell Coldplay themselves wanted this track to be important, they put it on there twice.

'Lovers In Japan'/'Reign of Love' - The Cure. The beginning of the song is straight out of the Robert Smith playbook. However, once the rhythm kicks in we're off riding on a new era Coldplay song. There is great movement in this piece, you almost feel compelled to run as the song suggests. It then transforms into 'Reign of Love' a classic Chris Martin love song that almost lulls you to sleep.

'Viva La Vida' - I love it when strings are used in pop music and this song is basically strings and percussion. I have no idea why Johnny is playing his guitar in the iTunes commercial, there is no guitar part. Unlike most songs on X&Y and some on Viva, the lyrics to this song are not predictable. Chris did a good job of telling of a story and it takes a few listens to actually follow the words and their meaning in this song. You can definitely hear the Arcade Fire influence at the end of the song with the echoing ohs.

'Death and All His Friends' - This one immediately caught me with the line, "so come over, just be patient, and don't worry". Contrast is what makes this song great. You begin with a quiet classic Parachutes like piano riff with Chris barely whispering. Then at 2:12 it begins, Coldplay's arena power ballad. An instant concert classic, along with 'Lost!', you can almost see the grand technicolor lights that will kick in half way through. The inspiring chant "No I don't wanna battle from beginning to end, I don't want a cycle of recycled revenge, I don't wanna follow Death and all his friends". You cannot help but rally.

What I Disliked:

I'm not sure what happened to Chris Martin between the time he wrote Rush of Blood to the Head to the time he wrote X&Y. Maybe the sudden dive into celebrity caused a blackout in his creative mind, but Viva La Vida is (like X&Y) lacking quality lyrics. Especially when compared to the lyrics on Parachutes and Rush of Blood. Viva La Vida does have some good lines, but a majority of the word Chris cries in falsetto are cliches and simple rhymes. Most guilty song of poor lyrics: 'Violet Hill', "was a long and dark December, from the rooftops I remember", come on! It sounds like he used a rhyming dictionary for kids.

Listening to Viva La Vida and then listening to Parachutes I realized the only indicator that it is the same band is Chris' voice. The band has changed its sound so dramatically that you can't help but wonder what could have been if they would have suck with the simple, almost folksy, acoustic guitar/piano genre.

At least they have found some footing in the new genre they reached for with X&Y. The album is a success and will do well in sales, but even more so the concert tour will prove to be a smash hit with an arsenal of crowd pleasers.

However, for me, the old Coldplay of Parachutes and Rush of Blood to the Head will always be why I take notice.

Coldplay - Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends : Grade 3/5.

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