77. Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto

Coldplay - Mylo Xyloto

77. Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto (2011)

1. Mylo Xyloto
2. Hurts Like Heaven
3. Paradise
4. Charlie Brown
5. Us Against the World
6. M.M.I.X.
7. Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall
8. Major Minus
9. U.F.O.
10. Princess of China
11. Up in Flames
12. A Hopeful Transmission
13. Don’t Let It Break Your Heart
14. Up with the Birds

Who is/are Coldplay?

In the era of home/mobile assistants, I thought I’d ask Microsoft’s Cortana this question. It responded “Coldplay are a British rock band formed in 1996 by lead vocalist and keyboardist Chris Martin and lead guitarist Jonny Buckland at University College London.”

If this looks familiar, it is…

Why did you buy this album?

This is the first of our Coldplay albums that I didn’t buy for myself. Instead, this was on my wife’s Amazon wishlist, and bought for her either as part of a birthday present, or as a stocking filler.

Based on the singles released from it, I doubt I’d have bought it otherwise…

What’s it like?

Overall, it sounds like an overproduced electronic mess, with little or no coherence. Which is odd, because according to the Wikipedia, “‘Mylo Xyloto‘ is a concept album and a thematic rock opera. The album tells the story of a war against sound and colour by a supremacist government, set in the world of Silencia, an Orwellian society.” I urge you to read the rest here…

It’s essentially the plot of the Queen juxebox musical ‘We Will Rock You‘, which itself is essentially a variation of Rush’s ‘2112‘ concept album, both of which have better music than this Coldplay album.

After listening to it now, do you (still) like this album?

I didn’t like the album first time round, and don’t particularly like it now. Everything that interested me about the previous two albums has gone, to be replaced with awful sounding electronics, that “Para, Para, Paradise” lyric*, and Rihanna…

Any stand-out tracks?

Not for any good reasons. ‘Major Minus‘ sticks out for sounding like Kasabian** covering U2 and being exactly as dreadful as that description sounds.

Elsewhere, ‘Paradise‘ stands out for the awful, awful, awful chorus, and ‘Princess of China‘ for being a) a “duet” with Rihanna***, and b) the most generic pop garbage Coldplay have ever spewed forth.

Rating out of 10?

2/10. Bonus point for using Brian Eno again.

Next up: JP Cooper – Raised Under Grey Skies

*Quite possibly one of the most irritating and infuriating choruses I have ever heard.

**Shudder.

***Becoming the first of only two Rihanna songs I have ever (consciously) heard, the other being ‘Sledgehammer‘ from ‘Star Trek Beyond‘.

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76. Coldplay – Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends

Coldplay - Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends

76. Coldplay – Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (2008)

1. Life in Technicolor
2. Cemeteries of London
3. Lost!
4. 42
5. Lovers in Japan / Reign of Love
6. Yes (includes hidden song Chinese Sleep Chant)
7. Viva la Vida
8. Violet Hill
9. Strawberry Swing
10. Death and All His Friends

Who is/are Coldplay?

Okay Google, who are Coldplay?

“Rock band”.

Thanks, Google. *sighs*

Why did you buy this album?

I don’t know. I have wracked* my brain trying to remember, and for the life of me can’t. I assume it was a good idea at the time.

Perhaps it was part of a 3-for-£xx offer…

What’s it like?

This album is a change of style for Coldplay (thankfully). Apparently, producer Brian Eno wanted a different sound for each track, and the band complied. There are world music influences, most noticeably on ‘Lost!‘ and ‘Strawberry Swing‘, along with more lush orchestration, and singer Chris Martin’s voice is allowed to drop to a lower register than previously heard. Thank goodness…

After listening to it now, do you (still) like this album?

This album surprised me this time round, as I liked it more than I remembered.

The things that annoy me about Coldplay in general – Chris Martin’s falsetto, a reliance on “hidden” tracks, and a failure to capitalise on experimentation in their music – are still here though. The tracks that do move away from this, such as ‘Life in Technicolor‘ and ‘Yes‘, are an improvement, but are brief flashes of what could have been.

Any stand-out tracks?

Life in Technicolor‘ immediately stands out, being both instrumental and good. Sadly, the rest of the album is downhill from there.

There are moments throughout the rest of the album that could be brilliant, notably the aforementioned ‘Yes‘, ‘Violet Hill‘, and the 2-4-1 track ‘Lovers in Japan / Reign of Love‘, but the different ideas just don’t carry on for long enough.

Rating out of 10?

6/10.

Next up: Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto

*racked?

75. Coldplay – X&Y

Coldplay - X&Y

75. Coldplay – X&Y (2005)

1. Square One
2. What If
3. White Shadows
4. Fix You
5. Talk
6. X&Y
7. Speed of Sound
8. A Message
9. Low
10. The Hardest Part
11. Swallowed in the Sea
12. Twisted Logic
13. Til Kingdom Come (hidden track)

Who is/are Coldplay?

Okay Facebook, please let people display more than “Musician/Band” please…

Why did you buy this album?

After the, shall we say, lacklustre ‘A Rush of Blood to the Head‘, I was prepared to give Coldplay another chance on the basis of lead single ‘Speed of Sound‘, which I didn’t hate, and positive reviews from the likes of Q, who gave it 5 stars.

I duly ordered this album, and it became the last CD I recorded onto cassette to listen to in the car…

What’s it like?

This is a more electronic album than the previous two, ramping their sound up from indie-band-made-good to potential stadium fillers. The opening moments of first track ‘Square One‘ even remind me of a Yes track, which is no bad thing.

After listening to it now, do you (still) like this album?

I don’t like this quite as much as I first did, though I do prefer it to both ‘Parachutes‘ and ‘A Rush of Blood to the Head‘. However, it has dawned on me during listening to this album that I really, really don’t like Chris Martin’s voice…

Any stand-out tracks?

Talk‘ has a great hook, though that’s principally because it was lifted from Kraftwerk’s far superior ‘Computer Love‘. ‘Twisted Logic‘ and ‘Square One‘ are probably my favourites, at least based on recent listening.

Fix You‘ also gets a notable mention as a song that was fantastic at first, but has since been killed by overexposure*.

Rating out of 10?

6/10.

Next up: Coldplay – Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends

*See also elbow’s ‘One Day Like This‘, AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black‘, and, sadly, Barenaked Ladies’ ‘One Week‘. (Smash Mouth’s ‘All Star‘ has also been killed by overexposure, but that at least is well deserved.)

74. Coldplay – A Rush Of Blood To The Head

Coldplay - A Rush Of Blood To The Head

74. Coldplay – A Rush Of Blood To The Head (2002)

1. Politik
2. In My Place
3. God Put a Smile upon Your Face
4. The Scientist
5. Clocks
6. Daylight
7. Green Eyes
8. Warning Sign
9. A Whisper
10. A Rush of Blood to the Head
11. Amsterdam

Who is/are Coldplay?

According to Twitter (@coldplay oddly enough); ‘Kaleidoscope EP out now on CD/vinyl/download/stream – get it from https://parlopho.ne/KaleidoscopeEP #AHFODtour runs through 2017.’

Ohhhkay then…

Why did you buy this album?

It seemed like a good idea at the time…

In 2002, I had just graduated, and was working full time in a music shop in Manchester city centre. As such, I had money to spend, some of which went on Q magazine, who raved about the new Coldplay album in their 4 star review. I, less critical then than I am now, took Q’s review to be a good thing, and followed their advice. It would be the last time…

What’s it like?

Where ‘Parachutes‘ saw Coldplay aiming for Radiohead’s old territory (the latter having moved on to ‘Kid A‘ electronica at that time), ‘A Rush of Blood to the Head‘ sees them aiming their sights on U2’s stadium rock crown. The sound of ‘Parachutes‘ is extended and amplified, with a wider musical range throughout. Allegedly.

Although it didn’t get the Mercury nod, ‘A Rush of Blood to the Head‘ still won best album awards from Q, NME, and the BRITs, and another Grammy.

After listening to it now, do you (still) like this album?

At the time, I was disappointed by this album, and 15 years later, I still am. There’s very little on it to get excited about, and even the then ubiquitous singles fade from memory as soon as they’ve been heard.

Any stand-out tracks?

No. I can’t remember any of them immediately after listening, and I’ve spent the best part of a week trying.

Rating out of 10?

3/10.

Next up: Coldplay – X&Y

73. Coldplay – Parachutes

Coldplay - Parachutes

73. Coldplay – Parachutes (2000)

1. Don’t Panic
2. Shiver
3. Spies
4. Sparks
5. Yellow
6. Trouble
7. Parachutes
8. High Speed
9. We Never Change
10. Everything’s Not Lost

Who is/are Coldplay?

Their Wikipedia entry is a little verbose, and starts like this; “Coldplay are a British rock band formed in 1996 by lead vocalist and keyboardist Chris Martin and lead guitarist Jonny Buckland at University College London (UCL). After they formed under the name Pectoralz, Guy Berryman joined the group as bassist and they changed their name to Starfish. Will Champion joined as drummer and backing vocalist, completing the lineup. Creative director Phil Harvey is often referred to as the fifth member by the band. The band renamed themselves “Coldplay” in 1998, before recording and releasing three EPs: ‘Safety‘ in 1998 and ‘Brothers & Sisters‘ and ‘The Blue Room‘ in 1999. ‘The Blue Room‘ was their first release on a major label, after signing to Parlophone.”

My takeaway from that? “Coldplay are a British rock band.”

Why did you buy this album?

I didn’t. This was a gift from my sister, along with U2’s ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind‘. One of those albums has been played considerably more than the other…

What’s it like?

This is where it all started for Coldplay. It’s inoffensive, melodic pop rock, with ambitions towards stadium rock. At the time it was released, it drew comparisons to ‘The Bends‘-era Radiohead, though as Radiohead had just released ‘Kid A‘, that may be wishful thinking by some critics rather than a considered judgement.

Either way, it was apparently a good enough album to be nominated for the 2000 Mercury Music Prize (losing to ‘The Hour of Bewilderbeast‘*), and won the Q Magazine Award for best album, Best British Album at the BRIT Awards, and a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album.

After listening to it now, do you (still) like this album?

I don’t feel anything for this album. It’s not good enough to make me sit up and enjoy listening to it, and it’s not bad enough to be thrown out of the nearest window. It’s essentially aural wallpaper. I can put it on, and get on with other things without really concentrating.

I may have just described Coldplay’s entire output…

Any stand-out tracks?

If pushed, I’d have to say ‘Yellow‘, ‘Shiver‘ and ‘Everything’s Not Lost‘. The rest are eminently forgettable.

Rating out of 10?

5/10.

Next up: Coldplay – A Rush Of Blood To The Head

*Nitin Sawhney was robbed…

72. The Civil Wars – The Civil Wars

The Civil Wars - The Civil Wars

72. The Civil Wars – The Civil Wars (2013)

1. The One That Got Away
2. I Had Me a Girl
3. Same Old Same Old
4. Dust to Dust
5. Eavesdrop
6. Devil’s Backbone
7. From This Valley
8. Tell Mama
9. Oh Henry
10. Disarm
11. Sacred Heart
12. D’Arline

Who is/are The Civil Wars?

To Twitter! “The four-time Grammy award-winning duo. @joywilliams & @johnpaulwhite”.

Fair enough.

Why did you buy this album?

Having enjoyed the debut, ‘Barton Hollow‘, buying the follow-up was something of a no-brainer, especially after hearing ‘The One That Got Away‘ on the radio…

What’s it like?

This album essentially applies the style of the song ‘Barton Hollow‘ from the debut album to the whole album. This is a good thing.

After listening to it now, do you (still) like this album?

I adore this album. Unlike ‘Barton Hollow‘, there isn’t a duff track on here. The lack of “bonus tracks” also means that it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome either. I would quite happily listen to this for much, much longer…

Any stand-out tracks?

Devil’s Backbone‘, ‘Tell Mama‘, and ‘Oh Henry‘ are all clear favourites, along with the Smashing Pumpkins cover ‘Disarm‘.

Rating out of 10?

10/10.

Next up: Coldplay – Parachutes

71. The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow

The Civil Wars - Barton Hollow

71. The Civil Wars – Barton Hollow (2011)

1. 20 Years
2. I’ve Got This Friend
3. C’est la mort
4. To Whom It May Concern
5. Poison & Wine
6. My Father’s Father
7. Barton Hollow
8. The Violet Hour
9. Girl With the Red Balloon
10. Falling
11. Forget Me Not
12. Birds of a Feather
13. Billie Jean
14. I Want You Back
15. Dance Me to the End of Love
16. You Are My Sunshine
17. Goodbye Girl
18. Marionette (Demo)

Who is/are The Civil Wars?

According to Wikipedia; “The Civil Wars were a critically acclaimed American musical duo composed of Joy Williams and John Paul White.”

Why did you buy this album?

This is another purchase following airplay on BBC6Music. I heard the single ‘Barton Hollow‘ a number of times, so got the album from Amazon.

It also helped that a number of the Nashville-based people I follow on Twitter were raving about them…

What’s it like?

The album itself is generally considered “indie-folk” or “indie-Americana”, which usually means there’s a slide guitar involved…

The majority of the songs are simple ballads or alt-country songs, made up of acoustic guitar and close vocal harmonies. The edition I have, known as the European edition, includes 4 covers, a bonus track, and a demo at the end of the album proper, though these follow the same formula (if you’ve ever wanted to know how Michael Jackson would have sounded if he were from Tennessee rather than Indiana, here you go…).

After listening to it now, do you (still) like this album?

I have a lot of time for this album, though I can live without half of the covers included as bonuses. Nearly every track is great, but a couple do fall too far into country music cliché for my liking (I’m looking at you ‘Forget Me Not‘).

Any stand-out tracks?

The afore-mentioned title track, ‘Barton Hollow‘ is the clear highlight of the album, having more energy than most of the other tracks.

Poison & Wine‘, ‘20 Years‘, and ‘The Violet Hour‘ also come highly recommended, with ‘Billie Jean‘ and ‘Dance Me to the End of Love‘ being the highlights from the European edition bonus tracks.

Rating out of 10?

8/10.

Next up: The Civil Wars – The Civil Wars