I haven’t fallen this hard for a Coldplay album since 2002’s A Rush of Blood to the Head. There were many things I loved about X&Y, and I was floored by the scope and ambition of Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, but I seem to be connecting more with Mylo Xyloto. Coldplay’s most buoyant and joyous album by far, it’s a big record with a swath of big sounds and big sentiments, sprinkled with some truly lovely quiet moments that reverberate with just as much impact.
On the heels of the title track’s instrumental intro, “Hurts Like Heaven” sweeps in with an electro-tinged urgent bounce that makes you think Coldplay has discovered Zoloft – until you realize that they’re using the joyously driving track to talk about how it hurts so good to use your heart like a weapon. Still, pain never felt so good. Current single and standout track “Paradise” rides an epic synth groove straight into the irresistible guitar hook of “Charlie Brown.”
Those three tracks form an explosive opening trifecta before a piano cool down takes you into “Us Against the World,” one of the most heartfelt and loveliest of Coldplay ballads – and one that boasts a soaring instrumental bridge. “M.M.I.X.” is another brief interlude that perfectly segues from the former ballad into “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” – which in retrospect really was the best introduction they could have given us to the album, way back in summer.
Two of the albums elegant quiet moments – “U.F.O.” and “Up in Flames” (if you’ve ever wondered what it would sound like if Coldplay went into the studio right after listening to a bunch of John Mayer records, look no further) – sandwich what is sure to be one of the most divisive tracks on the album: “Princess of China” – which features none other than the reigning Princess of Pop herself – Rihanna. Now, some surely feel this is sacrilege on Coldplay’s part, but it’s really one of the strongest tracks on Mylo Xyloto. Sampling Sigur Ros and featuring a four-four beat and a fairy-tale gone wrong story, it’s a genius pairing and not at all jarring when RiRi takes the mic for the second verse. It’s a crossover smash just waiting to happen.
“A Hopeful Transmission” serves as another segue from “Up in Flames” into another of the album’s buoyant uptempo’s – “Don’t Let It Break Your Heart” before the album wraps with “Up with the Birds,” one of the more sonically interesting tracks on the album. It starts out quite stark and simple before finishing in waves of shimmering guitars and synths as Chris Martin assures us that “good things are coming our way.”
It’s a gorgeous album that rewards on repeat listens, and one that I have to say is brilliantly sequenced. In a time when everyone is downloading singles and choosing what they want piecemeal off of an album, it’s a refreshing and soul-satisfying treat to listen to an album whose sequencing is so beautifully and carefully thought out and executed. Coldplay may still be singing about pain and longing and love, but they’ve never sounded more heartfelt and joyous than they do on Mylo Xyloto.