17 May 2014

MUSIC: Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends

I know that many people cannot stand Coldplay. I don't wholly understand it, but I know it. These four blokes, however, are my one true musical passion. Sure, I like other artists and songs, but I don't think many can touch this British four-piece. On Monday 19 May, their sixth studio album, Ghost Stories is released to the world. I hope you don't mind me indulging a passion of mine (it is my site, after all!) as I look back at their first five albums in the build-up to this release, giving a (very!) brief overview of each track. And if you do, you can either express your displeasure in the comments (seriously, there's only ever been one - and that was me!) or alternatively you probably won't be reading anyway.

Moving on...

1. Life in Technicolor [10/10]
My favourite album and live show opener, this is a masterpiece of a track built over the stylish tones of Jon Hopkins. It's sends such a hopeful message without the use of lyrics, and really encapsulates why I love this band.

2. Cemeteries of London [8.5/10]
Dark and mysterious, this is a thrill ride of song that achieves precisely what it sets out to achieve. While often forgotten, it's one of the stronger album tracks.

3. Lost! [7/10]

The weakest song on the album, which is saying something. This is deep (sonically if not lyrically) and has an amazing saviour in its bass and drum section (with Berryman contributing to both)

4.42 [8/10]
I love the transition in this one. It's unassumingly stadium-filling and says volumes without saying much at all. One of the most quietly powerful songs they've ever produced.

5. Lovers in Japan [9.5/10] / Reign of Love [8/10]
Lovers in Japan is a sensational song, making great use of a takk piano. It talks of love and oppression (sometimes within the same line) and all the while encourages hope. Brilliant (plus it has an excellent video). Reign of Love is understated, and all the better for it. This is a strong contender for my favourite track on the album.

6. Yes [8.5/10] (+ Chinese Sleep Chant [8/10])
Yes is brilliantly driving, with some massively singable sections, particularly in its latter half. It's a particularly cruelty that this isn't played live more often. Chinese Sleep Chant is most famous for being written whilst the band were under hypnosis, and as such the swirling guitars and hazy percussion combine to make a truly unique song.

7. Viva la Vida [9.5/10]
The band's first UK number one, this is deserving of all the praise it gets. Despite what Joe Satriani might say, this is highly original and combines the finest talents of all four band members, Davide Rossi, Brian Eno and Dan Green. It's a wonderful track, with some of their strongest ever lyrics. Just wonderful.

8. Violet Hill [9/10]
A 'rock' song that I enjoy no end. This was actually the first song ever written for the band, but took ten years to reach fruition. It's so sonically inspiring and really makes this listener want to make a stand. The lyrics are of the usual high standard reached during this era. Great video (and I don't mean the Dancing Politicians one).

9. Strawberry Swing [8.5/10]

An all-consuming smooth melody of guitars and reverse reverb, Strawberry Swing very much encapsulates the 'perfect day' Martin sings of. It feels lazy and summery without ever being lazy or particularly summery.

10. (School +) Death and All His Friends  [10/10] (+ The Escapist [8.5/10])

I've rated School and Death and All His Friends together here, because there's no discernible gap between them, and they weren't advertised as separate songs. The latter half is definitely superior, but needs the former. It sings of optimism through oppression and the everlasting life of hope. It stirs something in me every time. The Escapist features Martin singing of new beginnings over Hopkins' Light Through the Veins, and is certainly a rousing finale.


Top Three Tracks:
Life in Technicolor, Death and All His Friends, Lovers in Japan


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