“Mylo Xyloto.” Which means.. Absolutely nothing! (according to Chris Martin)…
The members of British alternative pop/rock sensation Coldplay have been at the top of the world. They’ve toured the planet over, packing out stadiums and arenas; they’ve won Brit Awards and ASCAP Awards; and their four studio albums have collectively sold over 50 million copies worldwide.
So. From even the small amount of background information above, one would assume that Mylo Xyloto (the troupe’s fifth and latest release) should be an amazing album, right?
The public’s first taste of Mylo Xyloto arrived back in June, in the form of the synth-heavy and Ke$ha-esque “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall.” Lyrics read like this (sample):
“I turn the music up, I got my records on
I shut the world outside until the lights come on
Maybe the streets alight, maybe the trees are gone
I feel my heart start beating to my favourite song.”
The brutally simple and numbingly repetitive bass drum pattern attempts to “carry” and “give variation” to the arrangement, whilst guitarist Jonny Buckland makes silly bagpipe noises with his guitar. Instead of actually even sounding like a Coldplay song, “Waterfall” sounds like a lackluster imitation (or a half-hearted parody) of such a band. Lastly, the melody hook is nearly nonexistent— Even the “Every teardrop is a waterfall” bit is a milksop attempt at a “hook” and is hardly memorable or interesting. All in all, the song is Coldplay’s most stale and predictable piece to date.
But the fun doesn’t stop there- Oh, no! The creators of Mylo Xyloto are bent on destroying Coldplay’s alternative rock influence, once and for all!
Reggae-pop diva Rihanna makes an apparence on late-album track “Princess of China,” and the collaboration is laughable at best. The track begins with an overtly-modern synth introduction, followed by a crashing wave of “Ohhhhhhh” vocalizations. Then, Chris Martin (the band’s vocalist) proceeds to fumble through a lyrical “narrative,” and is soon joined by the unmistakeable drone of his guest vocalist.
Once upon a time somebody ran
Somebody ran away saying,
‘Fast as I can—
I’ve got to go
Got to go…’
Once upon a time, we fell apart
You’re holding in your hands the two halves of my heart
Once upon a time, we’re burnin’ bright
And all we ever seem to do is fight
On and on
And on and on and on…
Once upon a time, on the same side
Once upon a time, on the same side, in the same game
And why’d you have to go,
Have to go and throw it all on my fame?”
Where to begin? Chris Martin, having convinced himself that he is clearly versatile (and just plain “hip”) enough to pull off an R&B melody, charges through a confusingly vague story, spitting up some of the most confusing lyrics I’ve ever heard. The chorus is sung by Rihanna, and it sounds absolutely nothing like Coldplay. In fact, if one were to happen upon the track on their radio during Rihanna’s portion of the song, the logical conclusion would to assume that the track belongs fully to Rihanna, with absolutely no trace of sonic trails leading back to the same group who wrote “Yellow,” “Fix You,” or even “Viva la Vida.” The song itself is clearly an identity crisis for the band, if I’ve ever seen/heard one.
“But,” you say, “They can’t all be that bad!” But they can. Oh, but they can…
The majority of the Mylo Xyloto songs have the same problem that “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” does— They’re not memorable, or even (on a lower spectrum of memorability) “catchy.” I would name some of these unmemorable songs for you, but I DON’T REMEMBER THEM ENOUGH TO DESCRIBE THEM TO YOU.
Not only this, but Brian Eno’s excessive production results in a largely inflated sonic atmosphere and is a poor, poor attempt at masking the sad fact that none of these songs have any true substance.
For instance— “Major Minus” has an uninventive, insipid verse melody; but thanks to the magic of Eno’s production, it’s easy to be distracted by the chaotic and rapidly-altered vocal effects and to miss how dull the composition really is.
Even “Charlie Brown” (which had great potential in its live form) is sucked dry of any dynamic (by way of Eno’s heavy-on-the-low-end, overtly sterile compression and drummer Will Champion’s moronically simple drum pattern) and never seems to reach an apex or even really go anywhere. It barely has a chorus (if you can even call the “All the boys / All the girls” section a “chorus”), has not a single memorable or original lyric, and is drowned in over-saturated effects and production.
And that’s really the whole point here— While the wildly colourful album cover artwork will insist that the music inside simply must be as exciting as it thinks it is, spoiled milk with a flashy sticker on the bottle is still spoiled milk.
D / ☂