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[Article] Make or break for Coldplay


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Looking to the stars ... (left to right) Coldplay band members Will Champion, Guy Berryman, Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland.


A new sound is imminent, writes Christine Sams.


There was a moment in U2's career when they had already conquered the world - and could have carried on sounding the same, selling tens of millions of albums, with increasing ire from critics who felt they weren't challenging themselves or listeners.


Then came Achtung Baby, an album which shifted everything. It defied all expectations, wowed fans and critics and propelled the band to a stature rarely matched by others.


Coldplay is one of the few groups now vying for the title of world's biggest band (with longevity as part of the package). With the release of their fourth album, Viva La Vida, they are facing a similar position to U2 before Achtung Baby, something British critics have described as "make or break time".


Coldplay already have their audience sewn up - this album will be EMI's biggest release of the year - but can they deliver something groundbreaking?


"We're about to be fed to the lions again," Chris Martin told The Observer, during a recent range of overseas interviews promoting the band's new songs.


The famed lead singer has indicated that fans might take a few listens to get used to the Coldplay sound of 2008 - which, by all accounts, has less of an anthemic feel.


"What makes us a bit nervous is, in this instant age, to release something that might take more than one listen, where everything is instantly judged on YouTube or something," he said. "It's a bit like releasing a horse and cart on a racetrack."


Martin and his bandmates - Jonny Buckland, Guy Berryman and Will Champion - have been heavily spruiking the album in Britain, continental Europe and the US.


The message from their promotional interviews is clear: this album is different, even occasionally Radiohead-inspired.


"We tried not to write many straight anthems this time around," Buckland told NME. "There's a danger if you put one straight after the other, the first one doesn't sound as big."


Martin said: "I think we were a bit anthemed out after X&Y. We've tried to do them a bit ... differently this time."


Coldplay's approach to releasing the album has cemented new working parameters for big-league artists. The band began streaming the album live through MySpace yesterday, with tracks officially released for sale this Saturday. The Coldplay album initially had the lengthy title Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends, with Martin explaining it was a choice of titles for those who found the music either uplifting or maudlin (he acknowledged people had different emotional reactions to the same songs). The band has since obviously chosen to push the uplifting route, shortening the title.


Pressure aside, Martin has the ability to joke about Coldplay's bid to be the biggest in the world. In a track-by-track listing for Entertainment Weekly, Martin described the song 42 as "a nod to U2's 40 and 1979 by the Smashing Pumpkins".


"I don't think you can try to be the best band in the world without having a song that's a number," he said.


Martin went on to describe his excitement and fear about tackling a new Coldplay sound. "We're slightly terrified about this record because we've thrown away all our tricks. Truth is, we tried to find new ones."



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