For the most part, they embrace modern pop, using machine-driven drums and the by-now familiar Chris Martin “whoa-oh-oh” hooks. They seem to have left the circular piano of “Clocks” and its clones behind, in favor of that solitary bass drum that drove “Viva La Vida”. To be arty, a few brief tracks exist only as interludes or introductions, while other tracks end with similar detours.
A key turnoff for anyone not otherwise into current music would be “Princess Of China”, which features the “vocal” stylings of Rihanna. She doesn’t get too much in the way, but after a while, one expects the auto-tune queen, part-time punching bag and lingerie model to show up all over the album, particularly on “Paradise” and “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall”, or within the canned chipmunk voices on “Charlie Brown”.
But those songs are undeniably catchy, and the listener vacillates between wanting to hate the album and hoping it will become comfortable. “Us Against The World” is played so delicately you’re not convinced of the actual meter, while “Major Minus” is just a little too jarring and clattery. “U.F.O.” sounds like it could be from the first album; it almost comes off as a finale, as does “Up In Flames”, but instead they bookend the Rihanna track. And indeed, the pounding “Don’t Let It Break Your Heart” does work as a sewing-together of whatever’s gone before, more so than “Up With The Birds”.
Mylo Xyloto soars when it wants to, but doesn’t get too experimental. It’s also not as long as it seems. The band seems compelled to make their audience think; for them, it’s not enough to put addresses of human rights organizations and such in the liner notes. At the same time, they make it hard for that same audience (and all the haters) to get lost in the music.
Coldplay Mylo Xyloto (2011)—3