by Anthony Kershaw
Record Label: EMI UK
Release Date: 2008
Coldplay’s latest album stretches the creativity of this uber mainstream band. Long thought of as U2 light, the guys up the ante and capture the essence of war, death, Christianity and politics. Sounds gloomy, but there is an uplifting mood throughout the CD.
It begins innocuously enough, with dulcimers and synths riffing through Life in Technicolor. The hand of brilliant producer Brian Eno is here, there and everywhere. Can you say ‘world music’? ‘Cemeteries of London‘ begins the lead vocals. The bottom line guys need to send a royalty to Henry the Eighth for a pretty good rip of Greensleeves. Actually, it is your basic, laconic English ballad. Lost has a stadium feel to it and 42 brings down the lights a little with some beautifully sung phrases, highlighting lead singer Chris Martin’s famous falsetto. It was nice to hear a pop song with various tempos and styles rather then the generic, bridgeless nonsense that passes for popular music these days.
Lovers in Japan has a nice orchestration with pulsating ostinato. The solid melodies keep on coming. ‘Tonight maybe we’re going to run, Dreaming of the Osaka sun, Oh, oh, Dreaming of when the morning comes’. Keats, no, but the pleasantries of the melodies match the lightness of the lyrics.
Violet Hill is attaca from the album’s namesake. It has hit writ all over it. Big, bold, brassy. But it is Viva la Vida that, for me, steals the show. Sure, it has a little of U2 in it, but I find it a rare jewel. A popular song with worthy lyrics, a superb orchestration and musical vision, executed to a very high standard. Martin’s singing is superb here, but it is percussionist Will Champion that steals the show. Driving the great string riff with pounding bass drum followed by timpani roulades and ringing the Liberty Bell, almost! And, saints be praised, a great bridge. I hear Jerusalem bells are ringing, Roman Cavalry choirs are singing, Be my mirror my sword and shield. My missionaries in a foreign field. Bloody fantastic! Keats would be proud.