Mylo Xyloto 3/5 A week after Coldplay released their world-conquering fourth album, Viva la Vida (nine million sold and counting), they received a letter from the record’s co-producer – Brian Eno. It said, ‘Dear Coldplay, I really think we’ve made a good record here. But I do think we can do a lot better.’ Way to rain on their parade, Eno! But Coldplay are humble, polite, hard-working guys. They made a mental note: We’ll do better next time. After a three-year gap, Coldplay return with a quasi-concept album, ‘a love story set in an Orwellian dystopia’. Much of this album delivers just what we’ve come to expect from the quartet: ‘Hurts Like Heaven’, ‘Charlie Brown’ and ‘Paradise’ are all soul-swelling singalongs with shimmering guitars and (occasional) synth and string embellishments.
Unsurprisingly, the album’s greatest departure is stuttered, R&B-leaning, Rihanna-featuring track ‘Princess of China’; the pop sheen and confident stride suits them. So: Dear Coldplay, I think you’ve made a good record here. You are great songwriters and your shows are unifying, rousing events; but not every song needs a raft of cod-anthemic ‘oooh-oohs’. You can sound just as powerful when you dial it down a bit.