Coldplay - 'Mylo Xyloto'
Following the runaway success of Coldplay's debut album Parachutes in 2000, they proved to evade the case of the Difficult Second Album when, in 2002, they struck gold again with follow-up A Rush Of Blood To The Head.
The bar was set high for third album X&Y, but they did it again; and, as if by magic, 2008's Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends proved that there's no such thing as 'Difficult Fourth Album' syndrome either. At least not if you're mates with Chris Martin.
And, like clockwork, they prove lightning can strike five times with Mylo Xyloto, a record that proves they are a band who refuse to stand still and continue to evolve with every record. That's not to say they're unrecognisable - with a healthy batch of their trademark "oh-way-oh" choruses to satisfy the inevitable sold-out arena crowds, Mylo is an album that progresses rather than re-invents.
Most noteable is the arrival of the electronic instrumentation, a trend so 2011 it's surprising David Guetta hasn't trademarked it. But in Coldplay's hands it feels effective rather than simply bandwagon-hopping; recent singles 'Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall' and 'Paradise' proving the case in point. In fact the only feature of the disc that does have the faint whiff of trend-following is the addition of Rihanna to 'Princess of China'. She gives a perfectly good performance, yes, but is she really necessary...?
Fans of the good old-fashioned Coldplay ballad ('Fix You', 'The Scientist') will not be disappointed, thanks to the amazing 'Us Against The World' and 'U.F.O.'; and the band also develop their uptempo mojo as well - opener 'Hurts Like Heaven' is a particular highlight.
What's impressive generally is the way the whole album fits together, as promised in recent interviews, like one big story. Chris Martin's recent declaration of the LP as a "concept album" may sound a little arty-farty for many mainstream music lovers, but you can see his point. It's cohesive to the point where there's almost a narrative through-line, and the tunes fit together like a perfect jigsaw puzzle. And it's one you'll want to learn back-to-front if you're planning on hitting the big festivals next year, because something tells us Coldplay are going to smash it once again...