MTV may have wrote a nice long article on Coldplay's new album in the last few hours entitled "Coldplay Back In 'Exploratory' Mood During Rebooted Album Sessions", but the important part comes right at the very end - a spokesperson for the band had "no additional news to share, other than the fact that the album definitely isn't coming this year."
UPDATE: The article has now been changed to "Though a spokesperson for the band could not be reached for comment at press time, Coldplay have said they're aiming to have the new, yet-untitled album in stores by Christmas." Read on for the rest of the article... [thanks MeriCri]
It's one of the eternal challenges of the musician: to describe the sound you hear in your head and translate it into a song that will stir emotion in your fans. Even harder, though, is describing those songs before they are even halfway finished and trying to make sense of what they may turn into...
In the case of Coldplay, that job currently falls to the mysterious "Roadie #42," who has been posting infrequent updates on the band's website, the latest of which promises that the tunes for their follow up to the world smash Viva la Vida will be full of, well, "killer" songs. Roadie, who revealed that his/her role has recently expanded to engineering the album, said a few of the lyrics from the band's debut hit "Yellow" — "your skin and bones turn into something beautiful" — aptly describe the current process. "With the project getting something of a reboot after Latin America, they've been very much back in the exploratory phase again," #42 wrote. "As described in the previous blog, there is a list of songs now and those songs have verses, choruses, riffs, lyrics and so on. These are the raw materials, though. Unrefined and rough, this is the record's skin and bones, if you will. The 'turning into something beautiful' bit is the result of two methodologies."
Working again with Brian Eno, Coldplay have been tracking the album at their new studio in London and in Budapest, and after a recent tour of South America, #42 said they were recently back at work in earnest. Eno has tried to shake things up by forcing singer Chris Martin to work separately from his bandmates and then pairing the band's members up at random to push the envelope. When last we checked in, the Roadie said rough mixes for a number of songs and a "possible running order" had already been written up.
The first methodology is what Eno calls the "screwdriver work," the craftsmanship and songwriting phase where everything is "tried and changed, analysed and re-appraised" in search of that special Coldplay magic. The second are the "happy accidents" that happen when someone is just noodling around or putting words from a different song onto a new arrangement.
"Both things get the record made and neither can be invoked by attempting the other," #42 wrote. "Sitting around waiting for inspiration doesn't get the hard work done and long conversations and methodical approaches can waste hours when a single snap of brilliance can change everything in an instant."
While Eno has been popping in to check on progress, he's also been leaving the band alone to get things done. "It's been noted that he's having as much effect on the record when he isn't here as when he is. The band observed a little while ago that very often when they were working without him and getting stuck, they'd think of something that he would say and apply it, getting them 'over the hump.' " In order to help, the band asked Eno to come up with a kind of Ten Commandments they could hang on the studio wall that would help them get out of musical dilemmas.
The rules appear to be working, as Roadie described: "I've seen Chris on more than one occasion get halfway through playing something a little too flowery or 'done before,' before breaking down in laughter and shaking his head, saying, 'All I can hear in the back of my head is Brian telling me off.' "
The band is on break again for a few weeks, spending time with family, but not before a recent spurt of hard work that consisted of " a real concerted effort to push every song to a place that everyone was excited about ... Anything that's not as great as the current favourite song gets strong focus. Problems get the spotlight so that they can't hide. A verse that's not flowing into the bridge gracefully can get a whole day's attention — the screwdrivers have well and truly been out."
After weeks of tweaking the little details and only paying attention to the bits that don't work, Roadie said the band is now taking a longer step back and "trying to objectively experience what they have made so far. I could be mistaken, but it genuinely felt as though there was real excitement spreading through the room. Perhaps it began to dawn on the fellas that what they have here is more than just a collection of intros, verses and choruses.
"The songs haven't assumed their final beautiful form yet, but they're a very long way from their skin and bones phase. What's impossible not to conclude, though, is that they have some absolutely killer tunes. I have no idea whether the fellas left for their break proud of what they've achieved so far and excited about what they have here, but I really hope so. They should be."
Though a spokesperson for the band could not be reached for comment at press time, Coldplay have said they're aiming to have the new, yet-untitled album in stores by Christmas.
[Pictures by Coldplay.com.]