Coldplay has done it! Their new album Viva La Vida is pure gold. I was pretty skeptical about it when they first released "Violet Hill" for free download. It was different, for sure, but I didn't think it was very good. The song was definitely a grower, but it didn't do very well to get me excited for their new album. It wasn't until I saw the new iTunes commercial featuring Coldplay's later released single and theme song "Viva La Vida" that got me more interested and anxious to buy the record.
When I finally got around to purchasing Viva La Vida at Fry's and slipping it into my CD player, I was stunned at how well this record was made. It is just...good! It's definitely a new Coldplay in almost every respect, and I'm really glad that they've taken their music beyond their comfort zone. Their first two albums (Parachutes and A Rush of Blood to the Head) were awesome because of their sound, but by the time their third album X&Y came around, it got pretty repetitive. It was just more of the same old Coldplay, though I can understand that it's hard to follow up an album that came out with songs like "God Put a Smile on My Face," "Clocks," "In My Place," "The Scientist," and every other song that was on A Rush of Blood to the Head. It's a pretty flawless record!
Though X&Y had some great songs, it just didn't have longevity to it. I ended up not playing songs from that album in my iTunes for a long time, and I didn't really miss it either. However, Viva La Vida is different. It is totally new, and the band took their music in a drastically different direction. Instead of Chris Martin's vocals carrying the music through the album, it was all about the music this time. You don't hear a lot of Martin going into falsetto in this one, which I think is very good. It just got old after a while. In fact, in one song ("Yes") he goes lower than I've heard his voice go in any song I can remember from Coldplay. There are a lot of instrumentals going through the whole album. So much other instrumentals, in fact, that there are songs in there where I'm wondering what the guitarists are doing to contribute.
And it all works! I feel the whole theme of this album is the celebration of life and of music. Afterall, this album is titled "Viva La Vida," so lyrically and musically, each song takes you through one aspect of seeing life and then turns you around to see it in a different way - mostly starting about a struggle of some part of life, and then ending by bringing you up to see the joy of living. It's sort of an emotional rollercoaster in that sense, but it's done very well. You will just have to pick up a copy to know what I mean.
But you won't be disappointed. I imagine that Coldplay really pushed themselves to make something completely different and to make it as good as it is, and I'm grateful that they did. By the last song, I ended up saying to myself, "Yeah, this one is a keeper."
Is it better than A Rush of Blood to the Head? It's debatable. I will have to get back to you on that for my opinion.