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


Jeff said...

You used the perfect word for Coldplay's music, "bland." I can deal with them in small doses but a whole album would be unbearable. On a side note, I see you put down one of their songs titled "42", subtract 2 from that number and you get "40", a U2 song. While I hope there was some reasoning behind titling it 42, I do think they try to resemble U2 too much, and that is never a good thing in music, unless you're a cover band. It's one thing to be inspired by ones music but it's another to replicate it. Coldplay is simply another uninspiring band that lacks originality.

The Mad Hatter said...

And that bothers me because I felt that, influence aside, they had something decent going in the beginning. But since Rush Of Blood To The Head made them huge, X&Y and this album are nothing but byproducts of success having gone to their heads. That and they admit freely and unapologetically to pilfering U2, Radiohead, etc. They were never going to be a great band, but for a short time, at least they were genuine. I just hope they publicly fall out of favor with this one. I'd rather see Thom Yorke's roving eye in psychedelic smears than these carousel fuckers telling me about church bells in a swirl of stupid color.

Starrlight said...


Now I love what Brian does with U2. But the man did nearly toss the cassette of the beginning of Streets into the trash bin. I think the key to Eno is Daniel Lanois. When they work with U2 Brian and Danny even each other out, as Edge puts it.

Plus Bono has an ego. Chris has one too, but the difference is Bono has an identity as well. Chris borrows everyone else's.

I think they are capable of good music. I love Clocks to death and the live version of Moses is awesome. Yellow? The Scientist? Bleh. I hate being hit with the pretentious bat and told by poorly dressed Gen X wannabe's that these guys are the second coming.

Barbara(aka Layla) said...

sounds like you're not too sure how you feel about this CD :)

Its kind of sad really. I ALMOST feel bad for them.

The Mad Hatter said...


If these guys are the second coming, then I want my frankincense back. How and when I choose my saviour is my decision, I think. Coldplay can stuff it.


Oh, I'm quite sure about the album (it sucks!); I'm just a bit mixed about the band. Based on their last two albums, I doggedly abhor them and hope they die horrible horrible deaths. But like Starrlight said, they did show at one point that they were somewhat capable of making good music. I guess I just need to treat them like my childhood heroes Metallica and throw them under the bus (which I think I've done many times already actually.)

Starrlight said...

Well The Het-aaah had-aah the decency-aah to catch himself-aah on fiy-aaah.....

Lars needs to be anally raped by a goat. Yeah.

Master Cianan said...

Gah. I hate these guys unequivocally. I hated "a rush of blood to the head". I thought that there was no way anyone could possibly be any more boring than these bastards. Turns out I was wrong, Snow Patrol are actually, incredibly, even more boring than coldplay. Not that I hate Coldplay any less for it. Furthermore, one Bono is too many, most of the time, and this Chris Martin pretender with his whining and fair-tradery should be stuck in a fucking blender. Jesus Christ, next we're gonna have an even more boring act offer up a quixotic Bob Geldof, and I'll end up in the hoosegow for murder. And it will have been worth it.

taotechuck said...

"I'd rather see Thom Yorke's roving eye in psychedelic smears than these carousel fuckers telling me about church bells in a swirl of stupid color."

Poetry. Sheer poetry.

The Mad Hatter said...


Lars is a goat.

Master Cianan,

I think Chris Martin is Bob Geldof.


Why thank you...

Starrlight said...

Point taken. That horrifying therapy film they put out...oh my god. Nothing is sadder than once great Metal Gods acting like they have sand in the pussy.

Starrlight said...

I find it amusing that they only got 3 1/2 Stars from Rolling Stone!

The Mad Hatter said...

3 and 1/2? That's too generous.

Master Cianan said...

They should have given them five. By five, I mean five sunday lunches sent to the band in the mail after they had passed through the reviewer's digestive system. They could have even sculpted the turds into little effigies of the band members; this is what's known as "satire".

The Mad Hatter said...

There you are with your turd effigies. Nothing more can be said -- because you have said All.