Today is the big day. Rihanna’s Reloaded is out. Just kidding. We all know what today is. Viva la Vida Day. It’s a holiday already in Cambodia. No? Well it should be. Here’s what’s going to happen: in real time I’m gonna review this album song by song. Thoughts, comments, musings are all in the question and I’m ready to go.
In honor of Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, I just pushed play.
Life in Technicolor – Already sounds like it’s gonna be epic. An electronic “Where the Streets Have No Name”. What sounds to be a stringed instrument of foreign origin carries the line. And enter the drums. I think I read this one is an instrumental. Yep, 45 seconds left and no vocals. Sweet. Oh wait, some “Oh Oh Ohhsss”. And then into…
Cemeteries of London – Creepy. Sounds akin to an X&Y b-side. A little ¾ shuffle-like beat. Kind of a dark sing-a-long. This is gonna be a grower…
Lost! – I already like this one cause of the title. Let’s see if it has any references. Oh, I just saw some tool on Facebook with these lyrics as his status. Blech. I’ve heard good things about this track though. “You might be a big fish in a little pond” is what most Belmont students were before they came to school. I’m hearing a lot of The Verve in this song. Nice guitar bridge. Coldplay has gotten better with those. Again, has a very epic feel to it. Organ outro. Typical. Haha. Next song…
42 – More LOST references?! The first line is also about those that are dead are not dead but living in his head?! Wow, these guys love the show. I can dream that, can’t I? Whoa. Change of pace. Previous track fours gave us goldies such as “Fix You”, “Sparks”, and “The Scientist.” I’m really digging this one. Worthy spot to bat clean-up. Oh yeah. Kind of a Who melody in the final section. Interesting mood change in this song.
Lovers in Japan/Reign of Love – Oh baby I love this intro. Sounds like Arcade Fire channeling Peter Gabriel. So far, the most instantly likeable track. I’ve noticed there hasn’t been a real straightforward drum pattern yet. Lots of pushes and pulls with ghost notes. I am really, really enjoying this song. It’s going to transition though because of that slash in the title. Great chord progression even though it’s been done before. Yeah, turn up that guitar. Here’s the change. Now why in the world would they not just divide these up? Just cause they both have love in their titles? Sounds like Regina Spektor. The piano is gorgeous. It’s a pretty song but I might be dividing it up in Garageband. Maybe I’ll see the connection on another listen. One of the other million listens this thing is gonna get.
Yes – Bizarre strings intro. How are they gonna do these things live? Very low for Chris Martin. That might be the lowest I’ve heard him. Majorly Middle Eastern stings. I like it. Now this chorus sounds very Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, or BRMC as tools like to call them. Probably the same ones with the “Lost!” lyrics in their status. I think it’s funny he sings about being lonely when we all know he’s married to Gwyneth. That’s when I detach myself from a song cause I know he’s making it up. Ok weird, it goes out then comes back. Sounds like a completely different song. What is up with this album? Let’s listen…This sounds like M83 or Asobi Seksu. And do I ever like it. Again, I might divide it up. Weird guitar solo. Nice.
Viva La Vida – And here’s the star. Can it be possible to not want to be able to fly when you hear this song? No. It’s like a peppy, “Bittersweet Symphony” if that song hadn’t been stolen from the Stones. It’s got that same, I-want-to-conquer-the-world feel to it. Again, the only word to describe it is epic. The same word long-haired teenagers use to describe Metalocalypse with Dethklok. Haha. That hardly seems like it should apply for both of those things. I will say this doesn’t sound as huge as I remember it being from the single I bought on iTunes. Maybe the single version has more strings. I’ll Holmes it later. For the record, I just love this song.
Violet Hill – I don’t think these songs work well back-to-back. It’s a good song to have been in the number two spot. I think it could have switched with “Cemeteries of London” but that would be a huge tonal shift too after “Viva.” Hmm…I don’t have much to say about this one. It’s been out awhile. “If you love me why’d you let me go?” Doesn’t Chris know if you truly love something, you gotta let it go? Is that the saying? Whatever, I don’t remember.
Strawberry Swing – This is a Beatles wannabe. I say that like it’s a bad thing. Now it’s “With or Without You.” The whole U2 thing is definitely here. I’ll get to that at the end. This is a sweet song, so the title couldn’t fit more perfectly. You’re gonna be finding this one on junior high mix CD’s for years to come. At least until the next Plain White T’s disaster. Onward to the end…
Death And All His Friends – We’ve reached the end and I have to say I still haven’t heard a “Fix You” or “Amsterdam” or “Trouble.” I’m sure they’re here. I have a good feeling about this one. Very Parachute-sy in the beginning. Oh yeah, here we go. Yes, yes, yes! Four-on-the-floor beat! And sixteenth notes on the shaker! Have they been reading my diary? Here it is. This is the “Fix You” for me. Chorus vocals and harmonies. Not as huge but it gets the point. It’s a quieter anthem song. And there it goes. Wait, here it comes back. Does this count as a separate song? Goodness, this is the third track with this two-song-on-one tomfoolery. What a perfect way to end an album. Something that will stick in your head like a coda at the end of a hymn. A spacey background and hums take it out with grace almost like a rainshower fading away into the distance. Man, that was emo-y. And man, that was a fantastic album.
What did you think? I hope you played along but I doubt you did. Final thoughts: For years we’ve heard the whole Coldplay is the next U2 business. I’ve always seen it as true from a popularity perspective but never a musical one. Now I do. It helps that Brian Eno co-crafted this album but I think the songwriting and instrumentation is finally at that hugeness that U2 can invoke. While it’s a brilliant piece of work, I don’t know where it will stand in my Coldplay hierarchy because it’s definitely too soon to tell. Way too soon. But I do know as far as musical depth goes, this one is their Mariana’s Trench. At least in comparison to their previous work. As Rush of Blood to the Head utilized more piano and X&Y discovered electronica, I think Viva la Vida finds world influences. And I also think Viva la Vida shows us Coldplay has found the world to be a dark place, but if you know where to look, indefinite beauty can be found. “Long live life” it postulates, and I think it looks for what that life is to be lived for as said in its so many songs: love.
It’s cheesy but it works. Til next time, baby birds.