INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Elsewhere DECEMBER 22, 2008 - by Graham Reid
COLDPLAY: VIVA LA VIDA OR DEATH AND ALL HIS FRIENDS
One advantage of not listening to commercial radio is that you don't start going off songs or bands through over-familiarity. Which might explain why I quite like this new album by a band which seems to annoy most rightthinking people and serious music writers.
But I hear so little of them - I rarely play the albums I have - that this one sounds intelligent and like a band prepared to take a few chances.
That texture (and there is no other way of describing it) means that Coldplay are drawn or pushed into areas they might not have otherwise considered - much as Eno did for U2 on The Unforgettable Fire. This gives some songs a grandeur, but without the pomposity which attends most of U2's output. There are also disconcerting strings, tense rhythms, some North African sounds and yes, sonic landscapes. They also stretch out on material like the dramatic Yes.
Of course at heart is still Chris Martin (a man who seems to annoy "serious" music writers as much as Moby) and even though his piano balladry remains intact, and therefore opening up this one to familiar criticisms, it now comes within a rather more interesting context.
Maybe knowing Eno is involved means I hear echoes of U2 (and Velvet Underground oddly enough) and you could argue they are really only catching up with the game. But as far as a Coldplay album goes, I've been listening to this a lot more than any of its predecessors.
Clearly I am not a "serious" music writer.