Some people say nowadays Coldplay are not the same as the first Coldplay. Their sound has changed from the soft, instrumental ballads from their first album, Parachutes (2000) to the electronic rhythms in Mylo Xyloto (2011). It’s undeniable they create cheerful stadium hits now, but the soul of their music remains the same and their lyrics still say things. It was never their intention to make another Parachutes, since they were actually never happy with the results.
Parachutes had a whole melancholic ambience, with slow tempos and sad, atmospheric melodies. A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002) included some of Coldplay’s greatest hits, such as Clocks and The Scientist. Like in Parachutes, piano and guitar still had a strong weight. They began to experiment with new sounds in their third album, X&Y (2005), but they made the definitive transition to more grandiloquent and electronic rhythms with Viva la Vida (2008).
Chris Martin makes constant references to God and death…
Since they teamed up with Brian Eno, ex Roxy Music, Coldplay’s changed direction. Eno is a specialist in exploring experimental music and he has produced U2’s albums since The Unforgettable Fire (1984). Coldplay are often called the new U2 and, although they shared no previous similarities from my point of view, “enoxification” possibly makes them sound more ‘U2ish’. Their first collaboration was in X&Y, where Eno played synthesizers in the song Low.
In Viva la Vida, Eno’s influence brought an atmosphere filled with samplings and synthesisers. The lyrics drifted from the simple lines in Parachutes to the much more elaborated, lugubrious and biblical. They aren’t a young band who sings love songs any more: Chris Martin makes constant references to God and death.
Mylo Xyloto sounds brighter, happier and more rebellious than its predecessors.
The new Mylo Xyloto is a collection of songs with a general “enoxificated” ambience, from big hymns (Every Teardrop is a Waterfall, Paradise) to little and delicate ballads (Up in flames, Us Against the World) that remind us of their first albums. All of the songs, big or small, ballads or hymns, are connected by a continuous “made in Eno” sonic landscape that fills the interstices. Mylo Xyloto sounds brighter, happier and more rebellious than its predecessors.
Another important change is the band’s image: probably due to Chris Martin’s obsession with perfection and evolution, Coldplay has been building its own brand image through all these years. The band members have reinvented their style with every album, until they got the perfect packaging as a whole. Everything in Mylo Xyloto (from the lyrics to the cover and the clothes) is inspired by graffiti art. Martin is an ambitious leader, always looking for new challenges. From the beginning, he has always been willing to progress, to learn, to grow. He is not afraid of change, as long as it makes Coldplay move forward and improve.
Coldplay have been slowly changing their sound through their albums. It hasn’t been a drastic change and that’s what makes them maintain their old fans as well as getting new audiences. They were always warning us that the change was coming; it’s still coming.