Coldplay - Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends

2008-12-23 14:29
Viva la Vida
Coldplay’s latest is titled Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, perhaps the first tip off that the depro chart monsters wanted to bat a different kind of innings. “We had a jam,” says Chris Martin, “so what?” Understatement of the year. Viva la Vida is not a “so what” recording.

It is the kind of thing Rick Rubin or Quincy Jones would sell their youngest for. In other words, it’s a producer’s album, the careful product of countless manipulations with sliders and dials, a home for the sounds of fifty different instruments, a choir and one band that said “so what?”.

But far from being another beat puppet in a Timbaland straitjacket, it’s clear that Coldplay is in full command of their end product. This album was a chance to show that Chris Martin can change pitch, that Will Champion can thump sticks with the best of them, and for Coldplay to finally dismiss lingering suspicions of their mediocrity.
After looting the Iron Maiden lyrics chest for "Cemeteries of London", the lads cleverly sidestep the Coldplay brand again on "Lost!", a clap-along crowd pleaser driven by African drums and Martin's standout rock performance of the album. "42" follows, an admitted homage to "Paranoid Android" and other epic free-formers that examines death through indie-coloured glasses.

Not only have Coldplay broadened their sound, but they've never been better storytellers. The cheap trick of a "life with Gwyneth" confessional is wisely left in the cupboard as they explore a much more interesting host of alternate lives instead. "Viva la Vida" recounts the broken fairy tale of a fallen king with expected melancholy but also flashes bittersweet wit: "For some reason I can't explain / I know St Peter won't call my name". Just don't play it within earshot of George Bush Jnr.: he might break down and cry, or worse, break out in falsetto if the "pride before the fall" analogy is beyond him.

By the time "Death and All His Friends" has delivered its last defiant notes, it is patent how much ground has been traveled. Every perspective has been shared, forbidding us from clumsily labeling Viva la Vida as 'optimistic' or 'cynical'. Rather, we are confronted with our feelings towards a very complete piece of art. Which, for some bands at the top, is all that matters.

See the band's track-by-track guide to the album

- Niel Bekker

When bands reach the top, when they’ve conquered the charts and start using money for toilet paper, they tend to let things go a bit. Suddenly, the only quality control they’re interested in is making sure their package from Mustafa is not just another ounce of crushed Disprin. But sometimes, only rarely, the stars align and a front man having a manicure in Durham thinks to himself: “We can do better. We have the cash, the time and a solid reputation. Let’s really go for it this time. Let’s kick

What to read next: Kalahari

galamatias 2008/07/12 3:41 PM
Have I heard this? Unfortunately yes Of course, I'm responding to the pop up on the music page. What can one say about Coldplay? Radiohead lite? They'd love such a compliment. What's wrong with Viva la Vida? It's safe. Not bad. Not good. Safe. Alternative rock with the edges smoothed over so that 94.7 can play the tracks and pretend to be cutting edge. There's some great sounds here, make no mistake - but there are also some of the most cringeworthy lyrics this side of a Hilary Duff song! And that's Coldplay. Nice corporate sweet boys, who write pretty tunes for you to forget once the CD stops. Not bad. Not Good. Just safe. Ho hum ...
DieBenson 2008/08/28 11:29 PM
Outstanding I've heard Viva la Vida, and Violet Hill, and then just purchased the CD immediately. No, as always Coldplay hasn't suddenly become Linkin Park, but whoever feels they should, should just keep listening to music that makes you feel like you've been smashed by a bullet train and leave Coldplay be. The Fact of the matter is that songs like 42, Cemeteries of London, Viva la Vida, Violet Hill and Yes aren't played to make you feel like a WWE wrestler but to make you feel better on a bad day. Some people in this world have those bad days and need these songs- besides that- I really believe that this album has some of the best songs in the world.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.