Coldplay up and decided to release another one of their albums with a funny-looking name. Released on October 24, 2011, it’s called Mylo Xyloto (MY-low Zi-LOH-toh). Says Wikipedia: “According to Chris Martin, the album is ‘based on a love story with a happy ending’, in which two protagonists: Mylo and Xyloto, who are living in an oppressive, dystopian urban environment, meet one another through a gang called ‘The Lost Boys’, and fall in love.”
The album makes a satisfying amount of sense after this, and flows just like a story – in a way a shade more profound than just throwing around a handful of depressing, ho-hum love songs and then a few really cheery pieces about hope. Perhaps the most striking aspect of Mylo Xyloto is how often times it seems just like one long song, most numbers flowing into the next ceaselessly, ushering the listener into a lively little nook of kaleidoscopic storytelling – more musically than lyrically, as a good chunk of the lyrics are pretty cliché.
The first song, “Mylo Xyloto,” is pretty similar to “Life in Technicolor I” (the shorter, wordless version) from the band’s previous album, Viva La Vida, but that’s pretty much where the similarities between this and their last rather experimental record end. It’s a 40-second piece of bright music that leads straight into “Hurts Like Heaven,” an open-sounding song, loud and clear and optimistic. With it being so positive, you’re caught a little off-guard when songs progress towards slower, sadder pieces like “Paradise” and “Us Against the World,” an acoustic number that starts out with lots of instruments but strips down to an acoustic guitar and some deep vocals from Chris Martin. Meanwhile, “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall,” the lead single off the album, is magnificent –driven by an upbeat synth and electric guitar on all its high notes, it’s a soaring kind of song that reminds you of a breezy, golden Friday evening in the middle of May.
The album plunges deeper in with Martin predictably “Ohhhhh”-ing his lungs out in a myriad of ways, from the urgent and harsh-sounding “Major Minus,” a suitable depiction of the aforementioned “dystopian society,” to “Princess of China,” a track unexpectedly featuring Rihanna.
The pace slackens towards the end with “Charlie Brown,” which presents those aforementioned Lost Boys. It’s a slow, piano-driven, unnoticeable song beyond its interesting title, and has nothing, on the surface, to do with the kid from Peanuts. Despite being the least catchy, it’s got some of the most wholesome lyrics in the whole album.
The next few songs blur together unimpressively until the final song, “Up With the Birds,” catches the spirit of the entire record and brings it, musically at least, to full-circle. “Up With the Birds,” though the fourteenth and very last track, doesn’t sound like an ending song.
You’re swept back up into something that has the distinct perceptions of a beginning. “Good things are coming our way” is declared towards the close, as sanguine as any beginning
Ultimately, this album is packed with all the classic clichés and the lyrics are ever- so-often unclear, which is what Coldplay is infamous for at any rate. It’s got some sad songs. And some happy. Some solemn, some subtle, some striking. But if it really is one big love story, Coldplay’s captured the heart of it far truer than most: Like the wandering, occasionally doleful, and at-times airy Mylo Xyloto, love is a sometimes-confusing, ever-colorful, always-emotional part of life that ebbs just as it flows, with no real beginning or end.