To prepare for writing this review, the album was my soundtrack on a light night stroll around the neighborhood, which suited it well. It's a sprawling, bombastic concept album about two lovers, Mylo and Xyloto, who live in a miserable, suffocating dystopia sometime in the future. Their troubled tale is told in mostly typical Coldplay-ian fashion, that is: loud piano shimmers, fluttery guitars and stadium-ready soaring anthemic choruses.
Despite the countless bleeps and bloops and electronic touches that pepper the album, the songs do sometimes manage to hearken back to the type of sound that the band used on their breakout debut album Parachutes. Don't go interpreting this, though, as meaning the album is mostly just piano, guitars and vocals, or else you'll end up disappointed.
Hurts Like Heaven is the first proper song here, and Chris Martin's unmistakable voice is here aided by some Auto-Tunage, for better or worse. Its dance-y rhythm and flittery guitars give it an ethereal quality, and helps it serve as a fitting intro to the rest of the album due to its unlikely (at least by Coldplay standards) upbeat feel.
Paraadise comes next, and you'll either hate it or love it, considering on your opinion of the band. If you're a non-fan, you'll hate it. It's just as memorable as Clocks, Vida,Yellow, Viva la Vida or Talk. It starts out noisy, slows down for Martin to tell the story of the girl dreaming about paradise, and then picks up with its oh-so-infectious chorus.
Charlie Brown could end up being their next smash hit as well. This one has a bit more of a "traditional Coldplay" feel to it, especially the main guitar riff (shimmery, of course) and melody.
Us Against the World is the song most likely to appeal to fans of Coldplay's more subdued approach (the kind visited on Parachutes and most of A Rush of Blood to the Head). There aren't a lot of empty aesthetics on this one, it's mostly just guitar strumming and Martin's hushed vocals, making it a nice break from the noisiness of the first few tracks.
The album's first single, Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall, wasn't my favorite when I heard it, but it fits within the context of the album much better than it does as a standalone song. The contrast between the previous, more somber, track and the synthesizer-heavy Every Teardrop creates a powerful transition, another nod to the album's solid sequencing.
Major Minus is another highlight, again ramping up the tempo a bit and having a bouncy, percussive rhythm base as well as a strong vocal hook by Martin.
When Rihanna shows up, though, the results aren't as A-list as you'd hope. Princess of China, which is dominated by her nasal delivery and presence, falls a bit flat under its own aesthetic posturing. Laser beeps bounce around the almost hip-hop beat, which of course sounds weird on a Coldplay album. Then again, this is a band whose lead singer stomped around onstage with Jay-Z last year, so it does make sense for a collaboration like this to exist. It's just not as grabbing as it should have been. It'll probably be a big hit, regardless.
After the aptly titled interlude A Hopeful Transmission, Mylo Xyloto concludes with Don't Let It Break Your Heart and Up With the Birds, two songs that end things on an uplifting note. Don't Let It's relentless, pounding beat drives home more ethereal atmospherics, while Up with the Birds caps things with another visit to the band's early career (that is, mostly just Martin and a piano), until picking up for a rousing finish.
With Mylo Xyloto, Coldplay made an album that will probably appeal to people who have appreciated their various stylistic endeavors over the years. If you already hated Coldplay and hopped on the wagon of making fun of them, this probably won't change your mind. It has as many sure-to-be-overplayed songs as any other album they've made, and will probably only make them even more popular in the public eye.
But if you generally dig their style, you'll find something to enjoy. Whether you stopped listening after they started becoming the next U2 or have stuck with them throughout, there's something for you on this album if you give it a chance.