Drops: Coldplay's 'Mylo Xyloto'
Coldplay is the Steve Jobs of modern rock.
Like the late Apple co-founder, Chris Martin and friends aren't about invention, they're about repackaging and need-creation and need-fulfillment. Also like Jobs, they are incredibly successful at what they do.
"Mylo Xyloto" (Capitol) finds Coldplay soaking in current influences and folding them, more or less, into the sound the band has established over its previous four albums.
They have an interesting preoccupation with Rihanna-styled R&B, even bringing in RiRi herself on "Princess of China." It's a stunningly beautiful pop song that's radio-ready, though Rihanna sounds far more at home here than Martin does. On the current single "Paradise" -- which bears more than a passing resemblance to "Umbrella" and "Love the Way You Lie," right down to the "para-para-paradise" chorus -- Martin sounds even more ill at ease.
Coldplay fares far better with "Hurts Like Heaven," which seems to draw from Arcade Fire's exuberance, as well as its lush vision of indie rock. Equally energetic is the youthful "Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall," which seems to square the sprightliness of "Viva La Vida," while guitarist Jonny Buckland adds layers of chiming U2 guitars.
"Mylo Xyloto" dances around ideas of revolution and governmental overreaching -- quite timely stuff -- before love eventually conquers all, offering comfort to a world in upheaval. Coldplay knows, after all, that people love a happy ending.
THE GRADE B+
BOTTOM LINE This is what consensus must sound like.