Let me just say that Coldplay is doing everything right in launching its new album, Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends. The entire album can be heard for free on the band’s MySpace page, prior to street date, June 17. (It’s selling for $9.99 on amazon.com, an enticing price; $12.99 Canadian.) Giving people the opportunity to hear it first generates excitement and goodwill for where the real money is made-the tour, which was announced around the same time.
I have a weird relationship with Coldplay. I LOVED Parachutes. Who didn’t? And then the follow-up, Rush of Blood to the Head, was just as good. But something strange happened with the third album, X&Y. I went to see one of their shows at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto (March ‘06), and it was so over the top. They were shooting it for a DVD, and everything was so exaggerated. It was annoying. I mean, here’s this band that writes gorgeous, subtle pop songs, and there’s frontman Chris Martin running around. The lights were kept on and Martin was even elevated above the piano so that the cameras could get good shots. It was a sudden turn-off, and I immediately didn’t care about them anymore. I even recall balloons, or maybe I’ve just imagined the worse possible scenario now.
But they did the right thing for this album. They took their time, hired producer Brian Eno (a master at ambience—just listen to his work with U2), and stretched out as composers/artists. Coldplay’s now got rhythm. There’s exotic instrumentation from Middle Eastern to African and Spanish. It just takes their winning direction to a unique place. They couldn’t have kept doing the same thing. It would’ve been Death To All Their Fans.