Key To Music Grades

A - You will never be whole without it
B - Highly recommended
C - Flawed, but still pretty good
D - It's your money, not mine
F - Why couldn't this have been burned in Fahrenheit 451?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Coldplay - Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends (2008)

Blinded by the need for universality, yet stung by the criticisms leveled at them as being unserious, Coldplay took their wannabe U2 rock to another level by enlisting sonic nutjob Brian Eno to give them musical depth. Problem is, Brian Eno is a mixed bag of pomegranate seeds, and he either inspires ambient genuflection or utter ennui. Add a Delacroix painting, a few hispanic-tinged ditties and a preponderance of Eno's insipid mood music and this record makes for an altogether fabulously fucked up listen -- perfect for an elevator. I thought X&Y was one of the most terrible things to be unleashed upon the human race, as I wrote here; but this is beyond words. Chris Martin, the King of Bland, sings less frequently, which means the band actually plays more -- and competent musicians Coldplay never were.

What I think is especially funny are the early reviews which cite this album's dense musical layers. Really? So that derivative Pet Sounds homage during "Viva La Vida" is supposed to be richly dense? I'm horrified at the presupposition that adding a multitude of sounds somehow makes music better. In fact, I would argue in Coldplay's case, that the layered sounds are there to hide their pedestrian musicianship -- particularly those strings. Adding strings for effect is a novel and quite fashionable way nowadays to offer a false illusion of depth. Bravo, Brian. Bravo, Coldplay. That mouthy English baritone sounds perfect over that Latin backbeat.

Ok, the songs (some of them anyway -- different as they seem, they still sound the same.) Here's a revelation: start with "Lovers In Japan" and listen to the first minute. Hear anything? I did. It was called "Where The Streets Have No Name." Maybe it was unconscious; I could care less. But Chris really just needs to kill himself already, because I think people prefer Bono. "42" sounds like a bad ELO practice session. Weary and wanderlust and looking for a trite ballad? "Lost." Not going to listen to the album except for the singles? "Viva La Vida" is an exceptionally marvelous product of pop confectioneering, replete with insistent hooks, anthemic choruses and an iPod video full of dazzling histrionics -- in short, shit.

I apologize for not getting out my Police review; I try not to stack the hate consecutively, but too many people are going to love this for the wrong reasons, and now I have my peace. F

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Two Minutes Hate

I've noticed that I either review albums I enjoy (to varying degrees), albums I sort of like and albums I doggedly abhor (and own) -- but I've left no room for albums I despise so much that I actually refuse to own them in any capacity. Therefore, every once in a blue I'm going to inject a new installment into Mad Hatter Music culled directly from my Big Brother mental portfolio: the Two Minutes Hate. In two minutes, I'm going to think and type as many dreadful-not-even-worth-a-listen albums or songs that I can possible think of to save you, Dear Reader, from future suffering. After all, I already had to suffer incredible aural tortures. And no, I'm not Christ. I'm just as mad as a hatter and sometimes I prefer my green slippers over my purple ones, okay? So much ado without further of it, here is the Two Minutes Hate.

My Chemical Romance - The Black Parade
Styx - Kilroy Was Here
Linkin Park - Hybrid Theory
Journey - Raised On Radio
That horrible Green Day/U2 collaboration