Hit or Miss: Fifth time’s a charm

Transitional albums are very important to an artist. It can redefine fan base, piss off critics, break old conceptions, bring in new ones and affect album sales. Kings of Leon and Beyonce both recently encountered this stage. Come Around Sundown and 4, respectively, were not as commercially
successful as their predecessors, but their continued popularity and respect has proven that being one of the biggest artists in the world, means you can do whatever the heck you want.
Coldplay does just that with their fifth album, Mylo Xyloto, released on Oct. 24 after much anticipation. In the musical world, Coldplay’s first album, Parachute, is said to be a great debut; their second,  A Rush of Blood to the Head, a classic; their third, X&Y, is good but not great, and their fourth, Viva La Vida, was another classic. History would call this an in-betweener, and history is right.
The band had a distinct sound that was eclipsed, but never forgotten, by Viva La Vida. Its tracks were rougher, with darker lyrical themes, and lead singer Chris Martin at times abandoned the falsetto that had previously gone to define him for a lower tone that brought him back to earth.
Mylo Xyloto is quite different but along the same trajectory. An upbeat, uplifiting album, it features up-tempo rhythms and colorful sounds that compliment the happy endings in the lyrics. Martin’s lyrics are always triumphant, saying that despite the fact that life throws many punches, and we take
constant hits to our dreams, “every tear drop is a waterfall” that has the possibility of springing new life and although love fails and at times goes up in flames, you don’t let it break your heart.
One surprising deviation from the norm is Coldplay’s love affair with hip-hop. In four albums, it only manifested itself in “Lost,” from Viva La Vida, but this album features three songs with strong hip-hop undertones.
The first is “Paradise” whose first minute and chorus music sound ironically similar to the music underlying Drake’s recent string of tracks such as “Headlines” and “Marvin’s Room.” The
Rihanna assisted “Princess of China,” set to be the album’s third single, features some techno elements mixed with a thrilling beat.
Finally “Up in Flames”  is stripped down to a piano and a drum set, instantly reminiscent of Jay-Z’s “Blueprint (Momma Loves Me)” from The Blueprint, which features just a drum set and a sample from Kanye West that give the ultimate control and focus to the voice.
Coldplay does not lose its signature sound, and tracks like “Don’t Let It Break Your Heart” and “Up with the Birds” seek to please the fan-base dedicated
to that sound. The aesthetically pleasing
album serves as a statement that Coldplay will not be defined by their fans, critics
or genres and confirms that they know who they are and how they got to be one of the biggest bands of the past decade.