Coldplay - Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends
Release Date: June 17, 2008
Record Label: Capitol
“You know how I know you’re gay?”
We all know the joke. “You like Coldplay.” So yeah, maybe Chris Martin played up the “sensitive guy” role a bit much on 2005’s X&Y. I mean, the band have made their mark due to the piano ballad; it's not exactly the symbol of masculinity. But with their fourth studio album, Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends, the London quartet aim to destroy all those lame jokes about them and display a different side to their music.
The band decided to work with two producers throughout the recording, enlisting famed producer Brian Eno as well as Markus Dravs (Arcade Fire). After a few listens through the ten track album, you will begin to notice the fingerprints left by the producers on the final product. At times, Viva can channel the passion of old U2, while on the very next track, you can sense a darker, organic feel, much like Arcade Fire and their peers. The best way I’d sum it up is Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends has the soul of an indie rock record trapped within the body of major label backing.
The almost vocal-less opener, “Life In Technicolor,” paints a vibrant picture from the get-go, immediately drawing you in. It leads into “Cemeteries Of London,” which features faint piano keys, handclaps, a dark tribal drum beat, and a jagged guitar riff from Jonny Buckland. “Lost!” is an upbeat tune paced by an organ with Martin describing his misdirections but not giving up.
“42” slows down the pace, with Coldplay doing their best Radiohead impression, as haunting piano keys are a prelude to Buckland’s howling guitar. “Lovers In Japan/Reign Of Love” is a two part epic that begins as an anthem and closes with a rousing piano outro.
The Beatle-esque “Yes” may be the best track on Viva. A trippy guitar riff, a bass line that loops, and a little Middle Eastern motif gives the track its backbone, while Martin’s casual vocals provide the relaxing groove. Clocking in at over seven minutes, the first four and a half minutes take your mind and ears on a well-deserved vacation until the final minutes deliver “Yes” to soaring heights.
“Viva La Vida” and “Violet Hill,” the first two singles, follow. “Viva La Vida” is constructed beautifully around luscious strings, while the chilly “Violet Hill” carries on with heavy piano notes and a distorted riff that pops in and out. “Death And All His Friends” is the final act of Viva, as Martin’s ever-so-popular falsetto appears here (Martin decided to use less falsetto on the album while allowing his voice’s lower register to take precedence). The rest of the band quickly joins in, as the crash and clash together to bring the song to a dramatic finish before leading into the conclusion of the aforementioned “Life In Technicolor,” as Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends goes full circle with its conclusion.
To simply describe my feelings, Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends is stunning. Easily the best album Coldplay has ever recorded, it’ll be one of the few to challenge for the best album of 2008. Forget all about the bitter taste X&Y left in your mouth and let go of your nostalgia to Parachutes, because this is the real deal. It may not be immediate on your first or second listen, hell it may take up to four, but once the beautiful orchestration and instrumentation hit you, pray that you are buckled in, because it’ll knock you on your ass.
Wow. Best review I've seen of it so far. Definitely picking this up, either on vinyl or cd, or both. I love Coldplay, and some of my friends never cease to rag on me about it. When it comes down to it, they know how to make simple ideas grandiose, through their music and Chris's lyrics. What's better than relating to someone through music?