Thursday, August 14, 2008

Two Months Later: Viva La Vida

Well, here we are in mid-August, and Coldplay's Brian Eno-produced latest, Viva La Vida, has had a bit of time to simmer in our musical stove. While our initial reaction was one of slightly-better-than-X and Y skepticism, we have to admit that this one is truly a grower.

At first glance, many of the tracks seem to make over-use of Coldplay's trademark repeating piano lines (see: "Clocks"), and Chris Martin's dramatic vocals. The more one listens however, the more it becomes clear that Coldplay has passed through (and benefitted from) Brian Eno's filter. The songs repeated hooks have become more percussive and textural, and less melodic in nature. They now drive the songs rather than defining them. Moreover, Martin's vocals have taken on a raw quality that removes some of the croony aspect to his delivery.

Viva La Vida was an eagerly anticpated release, and justifiably so: after the underwhelming delivery of X and Y, many were eager for Coldplay to return to their old selves. While the album doesn't exactly do that, it does put the band in a new direction that is definitely welcome. With a bit of listening, Viva La Vida makes you realize that maybe you weren't as anxious for the old Coldplay as you had thought, and that the new one is pretty damn good.

mp3: Coldplay - Strawberry Swing