Billboard OCTOBER 20, 2011 - by Jillian Mapes


Slowly but surely, Coldplay have become the masters of throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks.

Haters be damned, Coldplay's semi-experimental approach to arena anthems (under Brian Eno's tutelage, of course) has made them one of the most commercially successful rock band of the 2000s. If 2008's Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends didn't convince fans of Coldplay's interest in genre-bending (particularly in the way of world music), then new album Mylo Xyloto certainly paints the picture, though through untapped genres for the band: pop, R&B and electronica. The club beats and jittery synth suggest as much; the Rihanna cameo cements it.

While some may, in hindsight, herald Mylo Xyloto as Coldplay's big "pop" record, the stunning fourteen-track album is far from a collection of singles. As they have in the past, Chris Martin and co. envisioned an artful concept for the album - not surprisingly, an "us against the world" love story about characters named Mylo and Xyloto, filled with Arcade Fire-esque rebellion against "The Man." Pepper in political inspiration via New York graffiti culture of the 1970s (obvious in the cover art) and the student-led Nazi-resistance movement known as White Rose, both of which Martin has said influenced him on Mylo Xyloto.

So which songs on Mylo Xyloto rank among Coldplay's best? Here's our Twitter-length track-by-track review of each song.

1 Mylo Xyloto - forty-three-second child-like xylophone intro bleep-bloops right into Hurts Like Heaven as if it's part of the track.

2 Hurts Like Heaven - Coldplay pulls off atmospheric anthem in a way that makes it seem too easy. Toe-tapping beat meets spazzy guitar solo. Perfect opening track.

3 Paradise - Second single Paradise has it all: sweeping strings, dope beats, plenty of falsetto, plus sing-a-longs and hand claps recorded right into it. Cluttered? Surprisingly, no. Just succumb to it and sway along.

4 Charlie Brown - Third massive anthem in a row and album's best track. Chorus riff will haunt every corner of your mind. Oriental flair recalls Viva La Vida album.

5 Us Against The World - Mellowing out with acoustic ballad, finally feeling that this album is about battling dystopia with love. "Through chaos as it swirls, it's us against the world."

6 M.M.I.X. - Tension-filled electronic interlude provides quiet build-up to Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall.

7 Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall - Trying hard to rally rebellious youth: "I turn the music up, I got my records on / I shut the world outside until the lights come on." Cheesy? Just slightly, but the beats are top-notch.

8 Major Minus - Numerous eras of Radiohead summoned all at once. Feels like the angrier parts of A Rush Of Blood To The Head album revisited. Plus an actual guitar solo!

9 U.F.O. - Chris Martin's not only reflecting on his life, he's looking for guidance from above. Pairing of strings and acoustic guitar are a fitting accompaniment to his introspection.

10 Princess Of China (featuring Rihanna) - Yellow seems like a faint memory with this epic electro breakup track. Forgive RiRi's mixed metaphors: "I could've been a princess, you'd be a king / Could've had a castle on a ring."

11 Up In Flames - Sad R&B beat that could have been pulled from Kanye's 808s & Heartbreak. Combined with sparse piano and repetitive lyrics, it's the album's low point.

12 A Hopeful Transmission - Final instrumental transition on Mylo Xyloto, as well as the one that stands the most on its own. Subtle calypso beat under crescendoeing strings.

13 Don't Let It Break Your Heart - Classic Coldplay: huge-sounding and hugely hopeful pop-rock song, though slightly unmemorable. You can just feel the inevitable happy ending.

14 Up With The Birds - Going out with a bang is not necessary with you started with three of them. Instead, Coldplay borrows lines from Leonard Cohen's Anthem and channels Radiohead, again.