Released: Monday 24 October 2011
Chris Martin has been savvy is his promotion of this record. If you’ve avoided reading anything about him or the album then you’ve done well. He’s announced he was made to feel gay by Take That and confessed that he knows his lyrics are “a bit shit”.
Well, as always they are a divisive band. You sort of know what to expect from these boys now and if you didn’t love them before you won’t start now. I have to say, however, that this time Brian Eno sticks his oar in a bit much.
The album begins with vim and promise on ‘Hurts Like Heaven’. It’s streamlined and keeps a pulsing beat with galloping acoustic guitars. ‘Charlie Brown’ and ‘Don’t Let It Break Your Heart’ are the usual Coldplay fair of anthemic melodic rock with nothing new to offer.
There is, however, a glimpse of the old Coldplay, the band who used to be at the forefront of a melodic indie movement – a time when they seemed to be a British R.E.M. but ended up morphing into a boring U2 style venue filler. ‘U.F.O.’ is that time-travelling moment in all its hushed acoustic glory, Chris Martin singing about a lack of direction and how life is tough with no pretension or pandering.
In the middle of all this typical Coldplay gushing we get the added bonus of electronic meddling courtesy of Brian Eno. It lends the album a unique tone but seems slightly pompous and over the top.
The ultimate insult on this album is what Chris Martin claims to be his favourite part: a duet with Rihanna on ‘Princess of China’. Without being drawn into a discussion about the R&B powerhouse, it’s clear she doesn’t belong in a Coldplay song, the vocals jar and it smacks of the band playing to idea of being all-encompassing.
While Coldplay aren’t spectacular, they are melodic and will no doubt put bums on stadium seats and hit number one. That does not make this album a triumph though. This kind of music will make some peoples ears bleed as they cry for something different.
(Photo credit: Onigiri4)