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Viva La Vida


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After listening to Viva La Vida numerous times I truly feel this album is a masterpiece, and not just because the music is beautifully composed, but because I've never listened to an album that gave me goosebumps, there are just so many elements to this album that express sadness and tranquility, then explode into an array of color and excitement for the listener. I appreciate that they have stayed true to their sound and agree that this is Coldplay's "The Unforgettable Fire" not only because it's also their fourth major studio album but because there is such a change in direction. I read that U2 felt "TUF" was like a sketch and when I listen to this album I can paint a picture with the sound.


When I as in college I used to take long road trips home and to see my girlfriend many hours away. I would always play Coldplay and just transport into another world. I would drive into a storm listening to Daylight or Politik, play High Speed and Low driving on lonely highways at midnight, and blast Speed of Sound, Talk, and Square One when I was getting close to home and I could see the lights of the Chicago Skyline. So whenever I hear these songs I'm aken to another place and time. Hopefully I can have these memories with Viva La Vida.


Maybe I'm looking into the music too much but that's just what music does to me. What do you think?


BTW, Viva La Vida is a great song but Cemeteries and 42 are classics! : )

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I was blown away on the second listen, which is why I wrote this million page review...if you read all the way through, you too need a life.:


It was the day of the official US release of VLV. I was one of the anxious few that persisted in ignoring the online leak even after it was released in Europe five days before (I wasn’t entirely innocent, in the heat of anticipation I allowed myself to watch the secret gig in Amsterdam, and to hear other album bits besides VLV and violet hill on various radio talk shows…). Nevertheless, the bulk of the album was still a mystery to me (despite reading every online and magazine review ten times over).

It was a funny feeling picking the album off the shelf because, after the incredulity and disbelief I expressed at the very theory of the album being called something so stupid and so silly as “Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends” months ago, the album looked clean, cool and noble on the ‘new releases’ rack. I guess Martin isn’t as stupid as I was beginning to think he was.

At the time I was running errands with my mom so we listened to it in the car, where it was interrupted for such exciting location as “The Hallmark Store” and “Bed, Bath, and Beyond”.

I enjoyed the album very much despite the less than perfect way we heard it. I titled this indulgent little review what it is because I’ve always known first impressions to be faulty, and to really appreciate or understand a piece of music one usually has to hear it more than once, and in a quiet place with headphones. When I got home and did the aforementioned, I was, for lack of a better expression, blown away.

Life in Technicolor:

The steady fade-in of an entrancing electronic melody backed by a flurry of arpeggiated notes is the clear footprint of Brian Eno who comes through in glorious “The Joshua Tree” fashion, only (in my opinion) better. This song shoots to the moon and the top of all my future playlists when an exotic, eastern, twangy, melody enters. It’s a collide of worlds but, when the acoustic guitar begins implying its own accompaniment, the sensation is (without exaggeration) heavenly. I know you’ll all kill me, but parts of this synth intro distantly reminds me of some things I did like about “the postal service” The more I listen to this piece the more it replaces don’t panic as my “feel good”- never gets old track, and the more relieved I get that they were brave enough to kill off the lyrics. I can’t get over this song, it’s glorious. 9.5/10

Cemeteries of London:

The joyous upbeat flavor of the intro seamlessly fades into an ominous, cold piano bit backed by eerie guitar vibes vaguely reminding me of u2’s exit. After the first verse, driving reverb guitar backs the somewhat cliché chorus of “la-la-la-la-la-la-lay”. Nonetheless, the guitar timbres, vocal melody and not-so-bad lyrics are refreshing, especially when they break for a dark, crooning guitar bridge from jonny. Cemeteries of London succeeds in dotting and crossing all it’s I’s and T’s in being an all-around solid track, easily better most tracks on X&Y, this one nicely exits the stage with a piano dessert, joining the ranks of spies and a rush of blood to the head. 8/10


This song worried me a bit because I had grown well accustomed to the solo piano acoustic version (heck I even added my own intro and tried recording it). The big hip-hoppity drum beat and handclaps were a tough adjustment as they summoned memories of horrible pop and dance songs with similar ingredients that I grown to hate over the years.

But… The organs on this song are fantastic. Despite the weak lyrics, I always felt “Lost!” had a great melody that was unfortunately drowned out by a distracting beat. I eventually accepted the Kanye West-inspired rhythm as an okay and acceptable experiment for Coldplay (as long as they never try it again)…. The solo, while good, isn’t nearly as effective because it doesn’t present much of a transition from the rest of the song. The last third of the song is fantastic and overall it is still a strong song, I only wish they had stripped it down a notch. The guitar and miscellaneous effects are very much welcome, I just have to keep reminding myself that it’s no longer a piano ballad. 7/10


So here we go, the big super-hyped epic, multi-part song we’ve all been waiting for… In this song especially, we see a serious pay-off from the band running all around Europe recording in churches and what-not. There’s an empty, lonely reverb in the vocals throughout the song, in the intro especially, that is extremely effective with the solo piano (quick thing, the piano throughout this album has a very different sound from previous albums, whatever it is, it’s a nice improvement). When the strings rise for the first chorus I take note of a definite “Muse” feel that is surely not coincidental (I also feel some pink floyd vibes too).

The first change is a bit odd but welcome. In ‘paranoid’ fashion, will, guy, and Jonny play around for a moment until Buckland gets restless and drills up some grinding “airbag”-esque guitar (wait a minute, I thought I was the guy who dismissed all Radiohead comparisons!)

Funny thing happens next, Chris stops “wooing” and the song turns from dark to…well…happy, with some new major chords changes. Just when you get accustomed to the new jolly rhythm, you get thrown back to the start when Chris promptly puts the song to the end. While the transitions are “warm-gun” like, the song is not six or seven, but only four minutes. Still, it had that three-songs-in-one feel and “42” is a cool and unique addition to the kaltspiel repertoire. 9/10

Lovers in Japan:

This song is one of my favorites on the album, and I think it’s a perfect transition from “42”. You see more of those “colors” Chris’s been talking about (longer than that damned England/world cup/playstation joke he’s said on three different occasions) in the sustained keyboards and dancing piano melody that foregrounds the song. Now, the lyrics are possibly some the weakest on the album, but when Jonny’s droning guitar hits, I could almost care less because the arrangement is just superb. This is the first song since “Life in Technicolor” that you simply have to tap your fingers (or toes) to it. There is no real clocks rip-off on this album, but this is the closest thing you’ll find. 9/10

Reign of Love:

I had to discuss this one separately to be fair. Because of all the hidden tracks on this album, there are more like 13 songs.

While not a weighty bit on its own. After Chris puts in the “ 1, 2…” Reign of love hops into quiet, pleasant, rolling, almost classical feeling piano chords backdropped by an assortment of twanging, ringing instruments… this song is sweet to the ears through and through. 8.5/10


Daylight-like strings soar and sink to be replaced by dissonant (and also kind of daylight-esque, and, reading my mind, the word “daylight” ends the first verse) slide guitar. When the beat hits, so do those low-low-low vocals we were told about. While it’s not as pretty as some songs that preceded it, you get more and more impressed by the growing amount of new instruments and timbres this album has to offer. Strings are very present in this song to, but are less of a synth backdrop and more of a driving lead to accompany the angsty, country flavor. While many will surely find yes! annoying, the chorus is solid and the bridge is excellent. 7.25/10

Chinese Sleep Chant:

Crunchy, rockin’ guitar enters the scene like it could’ve been a b-side off of AROBTTH. While I haven’t found out what makes it so oriental, Chris’s lyrics beg you to fall asleep underneath distorted guitars…one must ask, is Chris trying to be funny or ironic?

Somehow though, Chris’s vocals (much higher than the previous song) seem to work nicely with the catchy guitar fifths. After a cool, free-wheeling guitar solo via Jonny, I thought, “This song is pretty good and relievingly simple.” At the very least, it deserved a mention on the back cover. 8/10

Viva La Vida:

No doubt I’m biased after hearing this song way too many times, nonetheless it’s a high point of the album where catchy ringing bridges and driving string arrangements. Radio and media friendly as it is, it’s a nice song, well arranged, and a beacon for the optimistic half of the either/or title. 8.5/10

Violet Hill: While we’re all perfectly familiar with the song, I much appreciated the seamless transition from “Viva La Vida”, it was a wonderful idea to put these two songs back to back because they are probably the two songs most central to the album. While the solo is a tad repetitive, the rest of album has already exhibited jonny’s skills enough that he didn’t have much to prove here. 8.5/10

Strawberry Swing:

Voices from the studio creates an informal prelude to this warm, homey song that’s a welcome follow-up to the seriousness of violet hill. The song starts off shakily with loose twanging guitar and clapping. But when Chris’s voice enters, it squeezes together into yet one more, clean, crisp, Coldplay song. I have to say that throughout this song Martin sounds like he’s trying imitating Jack Johnson, especially during the words “strawberry swing!” Whether or not this is the case, it works in creating a warm, fuzzy sensation throughout. Strawberry swing is a harmless song that is sure to disgust many music critics. Still, this song has some solid chords and great rhythm plus some new additions… percussive bass take a strong role in the song (the didgeridoo I was joking about?). While it’s not among the best on the album, it’s a tough song to hate, as it’s a comforting step down from the two big singles before it. 8/10

Death and All His Friends:

In Everything’s not lost and Amsterdam fashion, we find Chris at his piano for the last song again. Despite what some may suspect from the title, it’s not a dark song, in fact, the melody and lyrics that make up the repeated verse “Come on over, just be patient, don’t worry.” (Soon to be found in coldplay forum siggy’s everywhere) contains a lasting sweetness that leads into some clean and carefully picked guitar notes from Buckland.

Sure enough, the piano and guitar eventually builds to a steadier flow where, on the other side, pounding drum beats introduce the rhythm section. Buckland’s grander and now signature guitar bits set the stage for a fix-you like chorus that fills in the rest of the song, with each repeat the verse ends on the key verse “I don’t wanna follow death and all of his friends!”

It really is a great ending(hidden track ignored), despite the piano intro it stands out well from all last songs because of the looser arrangement. The key part is that first pull off Jonny does after the first verse, somehow it would’ve seemed inappropriate in either of the last two albums. In AROBTTH especially, the arrangements were created somewhat mechanically, while jonny’s guitar in VLVODAAHF’s seems far more expressive. 9/10

Song For The Escapist:

The perfect intro (in my opinion anyway) returns to become the perfect outro. Sucked in by the ambience, Chris (in life is for living fashion) adds the words “And in the end, we lie awake and dream of making our escape.” After which he sings us to bed. I may be a sucker for old tricks…but whether these are old or new…it’s really f-ing beautiful. 9/10

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