Gone are Chris Martin's piano recitals and gone are the washes of meticulously majestic guitar, replaced by orchestrations of sound, sometimes literally consisting of strings but usually a tapestry of synthesizers, percussion, organs, electronics, and guitars that avoid playing riffs. Gone too are simpering schoolboy ballads like "Fix You," and along with them the soaring melodies designed to fill arenas. In fact, there are no insistent hooks to be found anywhere on Viva la Vida, and there are no clear singles in this collection of insinuatingly ingratiating songs.
Review Summary: Well. This is a surprise.Give Coldplay credit for their guts. After their last album, the so-inoffensive-it-hurt X&Y, Coldplay could have taken the safe route by continuing to make heart-warming ballads and spaced out piano rock which would easily accumulate lots of cash regardless of the music’s actual worth and listeners would have been just fine with that.
Viva La Vida starts off with promise for fans who felt that X&Y was a far cry from A Rush Of Blood To The Head. Instrumental opener Life In Technicolor sounds like an updated snippet of Where The Streets Have No Name – which isn’t too surprising since Chris Martin and Co. employ Brian Eno here. Unfortunately, the rest of the record fails to build on this.
Sure, Chris Martin still has a knack for melodrama, but damned if producer Brian Eno isn't the man who saved Coldplay. To the London quartet's simple melodies, heart-wrenching lyricism, and what had become formulaic songwriting, Eno has added texture, complexity, and maturity. From the Celtic swatches of "Cemeteries of London" to the U2 throes of "Lovers in Japan/Reign of Love," Coldplay ups the ante, integrating not-quite-worldly rhythms, but the closest the Biggest Non-Irish Rock Band could ever come by.