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Montreal Gazette review 3.5/5


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Mylo Xyloto




Rating: Three and a half stars out of five (3.5/5)


To confront a new work by Coldplay -- a concept album, no less -- is to confront your feelings about super-sized rock.


Have you had enough of wordless "whoa-ee-oh" hooks that seem to be written especially for big stadium moments? Sick of insert-handclap-section-here bridges that appear to be there only so 20,000 people can join in later? If so, you might well have a problem with songs like this album's "Paradise" or "Princess of China," the latter a duet featuring Chris Martin and the dreaded Rihanna vocalizing together.


And you wouldn't be alone. Even so, Mylo Xyloto makes it clear from the outset that on disc, Coldplay does this big-moment thing better than just about all the group's contemporaries. And as uncool as they may be in some critical circles, they should be proud of that.


Producer Brian Eno, back behind the board after working with the band on its last album, knows how to build and layer a sound like few others, and the expansive soundscapes of the album work in perfect service to the material, which is mostly group-written.


Striking on that production front are the inspired touches that make their presence felt on close listen. The fuzz guitar solo on the breezy power-pop track "Hurts Like Heaven," the way the epic-sounding "Charlie Brown" winds down with a reflective piano coda, the sparkling guitars set against the acoustic strumming of "Us Against the World" and the squealing Big Country licks in "Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall" are among them.


The songs -- while perhaps not as consistently interesting as the numbers on the band's previous album, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends -- are, for the most part, effortlessly appealing. Even "Paradise," which has already been out as a single, is, for all its arena-rock synth washes, stirringly melodic, while the insistent rocker "Major Minus," with high-pitched "woo-woos" and a falsetto bridge, sounds like a superior Rolling Stones track from the 1980s.


The story, such as it is, is not easy to follow. We've been told through group interviews that the concept album is about two characters who meet, fall in love, escape, face struggles and discover that love conquers all. Themes of alienation, despair and hope run through the disc, with instrumental links keeping a flow in the performance and certain key phrases recurring, all of it reminding us that this is a Concept.


But Mylo Xyloto can easily be appreciated without any of that. It works just as well as a solid collection of album tracks, albeit a collection that will go multi-platinum and get fists pumping in arenas everywhere. Just don't let that put you off.


Mylo Xyloto will be released Monday. One track from the album will be streamed on iTunes each day leading up to the album's release.





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