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July 14, 2008 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Album: Coldplay – Viva La Vida

After three enormously successful albums (at least commercially), Coldplay were in the familiar position occupied by many pop supergroups of having shifted millions of albums but lacking the full-bodied respect and appreciation of critics and music fans alike. The New York Times’ description of them as the “most insufferable band of the decade” seemed to ring true; while showing a clear mastery of pop mechanics, writing catchy songs with soaring melodies and memorable hooks, the music suffered from a lack of differentiation, with almost whole albums seeming to blur into a long succession of carefully orchestrated lulls and crescendos.

Viva La Vida, however, is different. Coldplay utilise the help of the notorious ‘Sonic Landscaper’ Brian Eno, a man known as the father of modern ambient music and is renowned for reinvigorating the careers of Bowie and U2, among others. Lead singer Chris Martin has said that Eno totally broke down their sound and helped them rebuild it and this influence is immediately evident. Veering off from previous album structures that were mere groupings of standalone songs, the album opens with Life in Technicolor; an instrumental intro, which serves as an accurate foreshadower of the tone of the rest of the album. Slowly building up from the opening electro synth notes, the track mixes Latin guitars, a driving drum beat and touches of piano, and shows Coldplay for the first time in full flight as a band. No longer sounding like ‘the Chris Martin solo project’ with backing instruments, Viva La Vida sees Martin’s voice (and piano) take a step back and allows other members to flourish, which works to the album’s credit. Drummer Will Champion experiments with a wide range of percussion, most notably on Lost!, the album’s standout track, which most clearly shows its Latin influences. On Cemeteries of London guitarist Jonny Buckland comes out of his shell a little, playing more freely and taking hold of the lead instrument role, with his solo driving the bridge. Coldplay’s experimentation with different instruments such as organ and violin also helps to highlight the differences between Viva La Vida and earlier albums, with Martin’s organ work giving the songs a strong base and continuity that his piano riffs previously seemed to clash with.

While Coldplay’s experimentation doesn’t always work, and they sometimes fall back on the same old song-writing tricks, Viva La Vida shows a band that is at least trying to do something new. Coldplay’s fourth effort is their most instrumentally cohesive and diverse album to date, and hopefully acts as a stepping stone to further musical development, rather than representing their sonic limits.


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  1. Conseils SEO says:

    “Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends” is a most enjoyable listening experience that keeps getting better each time. Don’t judge it in comparison to the 3 previous Coldplay CDs. This one is completely different but just as, if not more, haunting.

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