x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends - Coldplay (Parlophone)

Music review This album, produced by Brian Eno, is an interesting development, but one more record like this and Coldplay risks treading into Spinal Tap territory.

Ah, Coldplay. This band's tunes may be well-crafted, well-played and ubiquitous, but their music has caused countless schisms among music fans. Certainly, popularity has rarely been a recommending virtue for diehard rock or indie types - the more disliked by the general public, the better - but even obscurists have been forced to admit that Coldplay's first three albums featured some superb tracks, relentlessly memorable and grandiose - if not quite worthy of their apparently unstoppable success. Viva La Vida, produced by Brian Eno, takes a different approach: rather than being a series of potential hits, this is a complete album, with only two or three heavyweight contenders for singles, the rest being even gloomier than usual, pensive and slightly (if safely) avant-garde. The Coldplay signatures remain - those pounding ostinatos, the Chris Martin wobbly falsetto - but he also experiments with the nearest he can get to a basso profundo in the excellent Velvet Underground-tinged Yes (listen to Venus In Furs: you'll understand). In fact, experiment is at the heart of this album: phrases unexpectedly curtailed, sampled strings thrown in at random and a distinctly prog-rock tone. An interesting development and a worthy album, but one more record like this and Coldplay risks treading into Spinal Tap territory.