New Coldplay lacks their old soul

Martin Chang, Online Editor

With “Mylo Xyloto,” Coldplay’s fifth album, they have traded in their emotionally stirring, perfectly balanced music, for slick, radio-friendly Rihanna and Lady Gaga style dance pop, and while the core of what makes Coldplay good is still here and the album is generally successful in creating a more catchy dance pop sound, the music on “Mylo Xyloto” sounds generic and lacks the unique soul of their best music.

On their first two releases “Parachutes”, and “A Rush of Blood to the Head” Coldplay balanced their rock and roll and catchy pop aspirations with an intimate sound centered around lead singer Chris Martin’s beautiful voice.

Even on the more rock and roll moments, you could still hear the acoustic guitar knocks and vocal hiccups that gave their music personality and soul. When Chris Martin’s voice would soar on these releases, it had a strong, direct emotional impact because nothing was covering his voice and it felt like he was singing directly to you.

They have slowly been going away from that great sound and “Mylo Xyloto” is the inevitable evolution. At moments, such as the songs “Paradise” and “Hurts Like Heaven,” the band has done a great job of turning their songs into the pop sound that is now the trend.

The best songs feel like Coldplay made them. Their sense of melody and song craftsmanship is here, their signature lush string parts and jangly guitar parts are here, as well as Martin’s excellent singing.

At its best, “Mylo Xyloto” still has some of the feeling of their more soulful music while also giving their music the bass heavy, slick, catchy sound that is now on the radio. It gives Coldplay’s music a sing-along quality it has never quite had.

Yet, it gives their music a glossy sheen that strips away what made it unique and special. No longer does it feel like Martin is singing just to you. Martin has a voice that can swell with emotion in a way that is powerful. You never hear the full power of this because production and gimmicky vocal and guitar effects cover it up.

At the album’s worst moments, such as the song “Charlie Brown,” both Martin’s voice and the song’s melodic power seem to be fighting against a desire for slick, radio friendly production.

Also, Martin’s voice has a wonderful personality with its hiccups and cracking, that is completely absent.

It gives the album a generic sound that is disappointing. The songs still have the general feel of their music, but the things that push their music over the edge into brilliance is gone in favor of a more of the same paint-by-the-numbers sound.

Coldplay’s music used to have the power to inspire; it now simply will sit on the radio with similar music that blends together. It is telling that one of the most successful songs on the record is “Princess of China,” a song featuring Rihanna where Martin sounds like a guest on his own album.

Another element that robs this album of its emotional impact is Martin’s obsession with odd, nonsensical lyrics. Sure lyrics from their earlier releases like “Honey, you are the sea, upon which I float.” sounds cheesy on paper but it matched the romantic nature of the songs.

Now Martin writes lyrics that don’t fit and don’t make sense. It’s the listeners best guess what Martin means by “my scarecrow dreams” and “the devil as he’s talking with those angel eyes.”

There are three tracks on the album “Us Against the World”, “U.F.O.” and “Up in Flames” that try to capture the intimacy and personality of their earlier music. Only “U.F.O.” is successful of truly capturing the former greatness of their music.