Coldplay, Mylo Xyloto
* * * (out of four) ROCK

Coldplay leader Chris Martin has been of several minds when describing the inspiration for Mylo Xyloto, the band's embraceable fifth album, out today.

STORY: Coldplay approaches 'Mylo Xyloto' as a clean slate

At times, he has said he took songwriting cues from anti-Nazi movements, totalitarianism and '70s graffiti artists. At other times, he says this is simply a song cycle depicting two young lovers swallowed up in a cold city.

Turns out he was being pretty straight: Thematically and musically, Mylo Xyloto does come across as a medium-weight and up-to-date blend of middle-period U2, the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds and Coldplay's last three albums. Co-producer Brian Eno, who oversaw 2008's Grammy-winning Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, returns and adds some faintly exotic Middle Eastern and electro-pop sounds and even a danceable rhythm or two.

Martin strikes a lightly defiant tone early on in Hurts Like Heaven when, against a surging beat, he sings, "I struggle with the feeling that my life isn't mine/Tonight the streets are ours/And we're writing and saying/Don't let 'em take control.'' And he warns in Major Minus that "they got one eye watching you so be careful who it is you're talking to.''

But that's about as deep as the songs probe, politically.

The remainder deal with escapism and tormented romance. First single Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall celebrates taking refuge in music, while in second single Paradise, a young woman finds her release by dreaming.

Those tracks and Hurts Like Heaven showcase what the band does best: using seductive, soaring melodies as platforms for Martin's earnest vocals (his falsetto is gorgeous here) and swelling keyboards, Jonny Buckland's chiming guitar, and anthemic "whoa oh-oh" choruses.

The breakup songs are less engaging, save Princess of China, in which Rihanna, in a heartfelt been-there performance, laments, "Once upon a time we burned bright/Now all we ever seem to do is fight/On and on, and on and on and on.''

Martin and mates aren't ones to send listeners away feeling put-upon, so they wrap things up with the reassuring (and precious) Up With the Birds, which predicts that "Good things are coming our way."

>Downloadaradise, Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall, Hurts Like Heaven, Princess of China

http://www.usatoday.com/life/music/r...oto/50886022/1