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Mesmerizing Concept C.D. for Hungry Ears and Minds

  • Jun 17, 2008
Coldplay's music comes off like it's another sequel soundtrack of Arthur C. Clarke's `2001: A Space Odyssey'. Mesmerizing, the echo effect of Jonny Buckland's guitar is second-cousin twice removed from U2's The Edge with lead singer Chris Martin's voice sounding like a homely, but likable, version of Bono. Far be it from me to complain or make a claim of plagiarism--more like natural alchemists: they remain sustaining with their songs, much like The Cure did in their day.

Their new release `Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends' is a concept album, one that encapsulates the dichotomies of the broader subjects of life with clever--if not contradictory--phrasing to match the mysteries they try to reflect. While the quality is consistent for the entire album, there are no songs as great as "Clocks" or "Green Eyes," yet the album is greater than the sum of its parts.

Featuring some sublime and substantive piano work and some exotic and excellent violin, there's enough variety to make this work a must have for fans and newcomers alike.

The subject matter is twofold, often like the structure of their songs--just like the C.D. title. Most of the tracks are really two songs fused together, segues if you will, like the Beatles did on `Sgt. Pepper' and `Abbey Road,' except they do it within a song instead of between songs (reminiscent of Kelly Clarkson's "Irvine," off of 'My December,' which is really two songs, except she did it with a break). Like `...Pepper,' they even reprise the first song at the end. "Life [is indeed] in Technicolor".

Musically, they change notes and tempos to reflect the theme. The best songs in the middle do this, including "Lost!" (the folly of winning and losing); "Lovers in Japan" and "Yes," (yearning, 'Lust/Caution' and attainment); (The first part of "Lovers..." sounds like U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name;" the second part like something off of 'October'.) "Viva La Vida" (those who reign on heaven and earth, "St. Peter won't call my name/...When I ruled the world.") and "The Violent Hill," (the secular and spiritual realms, "...Long and dark December/When the banks became cathedrals.")

Exceptions include "42," which may be in four parts--I keep losing count--and invokes the memory of the dead, reconciling the divide between the living and the departed. "Strawberry Swing" is a country fusion and properly remains one solid song. The lyrics celebrate the wonders and pleasures of life, and, call me all wet, but I believe recently deceased Swedish director, Ingmar Bergman, is invoked here. After all, Bergman revered the fruit, and depicted it in exuberant community partaking in `The Seventh Seal' and `Wild Strawberries'. Similarly, "Cemeteries of London," is celestial, and while the words are elusive to me so far, it is one of the best tracks on the C.D.

I love this album despite its alleged flaws. I am hypnotized by its reverberating rhythms, and get lost in its everyman lyrics. "Lost!" is an encouraging reminder that winning is tentative and limiting; not everyone can win at once after all. If the nearly subliminal wisdom doesn't get you, then some of the last lines will: "No, I don't want battlefronts from beginning to end./No, I don't want to recycle revenge."

What better way to travel through life than with in your car with this Coldplay C.D.? It provides food for thought, but, ah, what exquisite food for the ears and mind.

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More Viva La Vida reviews
review by . September 02, 2008
Coldplay moves away from their usual radio-friendly soaring anthems, but still score big with their fourth studio album, which is filled with rich instrumental passages, as in the very first track "Life in Technicolor".     The second track "Cemeteries of London" reminds me of soundtrack music from those old spaghetti westerns, but with deep and introspective lyrics:     "God is in the houses and God is in my head... and all the cemeteries in London...   I …
review by . June 19, 2008
posted in Music Matters
Coldplay is creating some of the best music around, and this album enhances their form. I found every song here to be solid, no filler, and this album is full of hits... the orchestral viva la vida is energetic and fits in with the melodic and somewhat melancholic range of tunes on the album. If you like the previous Coldplay albums this one should satisfy you. Not much more needs to be said!
About the reviewer
John L. Peterson ()
Ranked #34
I am a substitute teacher who enjoysonline reviewing. Skiing is my favorite pastime; weight training and health are my obsessions;and music and movies feed my psyche. Books are a treasure and a pleasure … more
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About this album


Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends is the fourth studio album by English alternative rock band Coldplay, released in June 2008. Coldplay released four singles from the record: "Violet Hill" and "Viva la Vida" in May 2008 and "Lost!" and "Lovers in Japan" in November 2008. "Viva la Vida" is the band's first song to reach number one in the United States and the United Kingdom.

The album was released to critical and commercial success. It won Best Rock Album at the 2009 Grammy Awards.

# Title Length 1. "Life in Technicolor" (Berryman/Buckland/Champion/Martin/Hopkins) 2:29 2. "Cemeteries of London"   3:21 3. "Lost!"   3:55 4. "42"   3:57 5. "Lovers in Japan/Reign of Love"   6:51 6. "Yes" (includes hidden song "Chinese Sleep Chant") 7:06 7. "Viva la Vida"   4:01 8. "Violet Hill"   3:42 9. "Strawberry Swing"   4:09 10. "Death and All His Friends" (includes hidden song "The Escapist": Berryman/Buckland/Champion/Martin/Hopkins) 6:18 Bonus tracks # Title Length 11. "Lost?"   3:40 12. "Lovers in Japan (Acoustic Version)"   3:49
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Label: Capitol Records
Release Date: June 17, 2008
Artist: Coldplay

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