Coldplay: Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends


Like The Shins, Coldplay are pop culture renowned from being name-dropped in a movie. That of course is the scene stealing joke in The 40-Year Old Virgin, where the Paul Rudd character says to the Seth Rogen character during a video game session – “You know how I know you’re gay? You like Coldplay!”

Now the most “insufferable band of the decade,” courtesy of the New York Times, is back with a new image, something that stenches of some kind of modern day Sgt. Pepper military uniform on Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends.

The Beatles, Colplay are not, and they better know it, although Chris Martin’s musical roots lay obvious in Jeff Buckley, R.E.M. and pre Kid A Radiohead.  Martin has grown with this fourth album and instead of going for the obvious, delivers an album that isn’t immediately wimpy.  In fact, many of the songs (“Lost!” “Yes” “Strawberry Swing”) avoided the verse chorus verse chorus run-around of prior Coldplay sing-alongs.

The title track, is already considered a battle cry theme, a made for TV  clap-along live anthem, as Martin howls “I used to rule the world/seas would rise when I gave the word.”   Producer Brian Eno takes Coldplay out of their comfort zone giving the band U2 flourishes, most notably in Johnny Buckland’s ethereal guitar tones (“Lovers In Japan”), while soaring church organs in “Lost!” give Coldplay a touch of Arcade Fire. 

First single “Violet Hill” is a top 40 hit, but the digitized opener “Life in Technicolor,” closing with the hidden track “The Escapist” set to the tone of the prior mentioned song gives the recording an international flavor.  Viva la Vida is undoubtedly the bravest offering from this quartet to date, but that doesn’t necessarily make it triumphant. Lost! – Coldplay

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