Album Review: "Mylo Xyloto" by Coldplay (2011)
Coldplay’s fifth studio album Mylo Xyloto, came out on October 24th, 2011, and I picked up my copy soon thereafter. This album had a very interesting name, and was said to have been inspired by graffiti seen in major cities. I have been a fan of Coldplay’s music for a few years now, and have always enjoyed their style and use of theatrics. Plus, I had heard and absolutely loved the single ‘Every Teardrop is a Waterfall’ which came out in Summer 2011. I was looking forward to the release of this album, and what new things Coldplay had to offer their fans.
After I got and listened to my copy of Mylo Xyloto, I decided to write a review of the album, and what I thought of it.
1) Mylo Xyloto
2) Hurts Like Heaven
4) Charlie Brown
5) Us Against the World
7) Every Teardrop is a Waterfall
8) Major Minus
10) Princess of China (featuring Rihanna)
11) Up in Flames
12) A Hopeful Transmission
13) Don't Let It Break Your Heart
14) Up with the Birds
The album starts off with “Mylo Xyloto” which acts as an introduction to the rest of the songs; almost like an opening act. “Hurts like Heaven” is second, and I thought the song name was a clever play-on-words. This song is very upbeat, and almost as soon as it begins, you can hear (the vocalist) Chris Martin quickly chanting lyrics. Judging from the lyrics, it seems as if the song is about someone creating graffiti in different areas of a city, and while doing so is pondering about their life.
The third song is “Paradise”, which was the second single released in mid September. The beginning of the song has a very harmonic tone and almost celestial feel, which ties in with the title. Chris Martin then begins to tell the listeners a story of a girl who experiences the daily hardships of life, and dreams of one day being in Paradise. “And so laying underneath those stormy skies, She’d say “Oh, I know the sun must set to rise”.” This song could be an anthem to people everywhere who dream of a better day.
“Charlie Brown” is the fourth song on the album, and seems to be about not having a care in the world. (“We’ll run wild, oh, we’ll be glowing in the dark, all the boys, all the girls, all the madness in the world.”) The name of the song is taken from a Peanuts character, and perhaps is meant to remind the listener of how it is like to be young, carefree, and able to do whatever you want.
The next song, “Us Against the World” is a much slower one, and has a sound similar to the tracks on Coldplay’s first album, Parachutes. Chris Martin’s voice croons while being accompanied by a guitar softly playing. The lyrics speak of two people staying together throughout the trials and temptations of the world. The song finishes with the words “Through chaos as it swirls, it’s us against the world”.
“M.M.I.X” serves as an interlude, and lasts for forty nine seconds, leading smoothly into the popular single “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall”, which was an instant hit from when it came out in June 2011. The first single off the album, it was on many summer playlists and requested frequently on radio stations. The lyrics speak of how great an impact music has on the persona, and how it keeps them motivated during tough times (“I feel my heart start beating to my favourite song.” and “Maybe I’m in the black, maybe I’m on my knees, in the gap between the two trapezes, but my heart is beating and my pulses start, cathedrals in my heart.”)
“And the kids, they dance, oh, the kids all night, until Monday morning feels another life” implies that music inspires the antics of everyday people during the weekends, such as going to clubs, parties and concerts. This song is lively from beginning to end, and finishes with an energetic beating of drums.
Up next on the tracklist is “Major Minus”. This one seems to be a warning of some sorts to not trust those that are in control. “They’ve got one eye watching you, one eye on what you do,” is repeated often in the song, occasionally accompanied with “so be careful ‘cause nothing they say is true”. There is also mention of “crocodiles ticking around the world”, a reference to Peter Pan, as the main villain knew his end was near whenever he heard a clock ticking. The lyrics remind me of Big Brother, from the novel 1984 by George Orwell. The primary instrument used in this song is a guitar.
The ninth song, “U.F.O” is a song accompanied by the strumming of a guitar and subtle synths, and the persona speaks of the everyday confusions of life, saying things such as “Lord, I don’t know which way I’m going, which way the river gonna flow”. However, it seems to be a casual observation. The person then find someone that gives them reason to keep going through life.
“Princess of China” is a collaboration between Coldplay and Rihanna, and both parties bring their best to the table. There is a steady beat throughout the song, and Chris Martin starts singing. Rihanna joins in, saying “Once upon a time we were burning bright, now all we ever seem to do is fight”. She also notes “Could’ve been a princess, you’d be a king, could’ve had a castle and worn a ring, but no, you let me go.” The song is clearly about a breakup, and the negative effects it has had. The song ends with the two chanting, “Oh, you really hurt me,” indicating that it was a bitter divide. It’s definitely a song that you can nod your head and tap your feet to.
The next song is “Up in Flames” is about a breakup once again, and has a much slower feel to it. It speaks about the relationship and how “up in flames we have slowly gone”, indicating that the relationship for sometime was on the rocks.
“A Hopeful Transmission” is a second interlude, and leads right into the song “Don’t Let It Break Your Heart”. The lyrics in this second last track are about a pair of lovers who lament about the ending of their relationship, and the eventual comforting of each other. The song ends with Martin chanting “Don’t let it break your heart”, implying to not let anything in life, not just the end of relationships, get you down.
The last song is “Up with the Birds”, which signals the closure of the album. It begins with a very atmospheric feel, and one can imagine someone soaring high above. A guitar is added, and the song becomes more upbeat. “Up with the Birds” seems to be about accepting things in life as they come, while being hopeful for a better day. The inspiring phrase “A simple plot, but I know one day good things are coming our way” ends the song.
There definitely is a change from Coldplay’s previous albums, say Parachutes or Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends. This album mostly has a more electro-pop feel and definitely more experimentation with different sounds, but songs such as “Up in Flames” and “Us Against the World” are slower, and reminds us of the earlier Coldplay days. Some of the songs, especially “Hurts like Heaven” and “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” are upbeat, and I can imagine them being danced to quite easily. The lyrics themselves are very uplifting and inspiring, motivating listeners to be optimistic, strive for better things, and not let anything get them down.
Once again, Coldplay has delivered an amazing piece of work, which will be enjoyed by many for years to come.
My Favourite Songs from the Album:
- Every Teardrop is a Waterfall
- Hurts Like Heaven
- Princess of China