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Album Reviews

Coldplay: Viva La Vida

By Neerav Gupta | September 1, 2008

Split Magazine: ColdplayStarring Chris Martin, Guy Berryman, Will Champion and Jon Buckland, Coldplay’s much anticipated new album was released recently. And before we go any further, let’s not forget the most important contributor to this project — Brian Eno, who is famous for his string of ambient and electronica records. Heavily laced with experimentation, it’s a genuine Brian Eno-influenced record. Released on June 12, 2008, worldwide, the album debuted on the Billboard, as well as 36 other charts worldwide, at number one. The album is titled ‘Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends’. ‘Viva La Vida’ means “long live life” in Spanish and the name is taken from a painting by 20th century Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. The album cover features a painting by the famous French painter Eugene Delacroix called Liberty Leading the People (La Liberté guidant le peuple).

The album, as I said before, features a lot of experimentation, with organs, drum machines, hip hop beats, congas, keys, violins, to cellos and what not. The new sound employed by the band is very different from the typical Coldplay sound that fans have become accustomed to. The experimentation ranges from hip hop beats entwined with a church organ in “Lost!” to a very U2-ish guitar sound in “Lovers In Japan/Reign Of Love”, violins and cellos in “Yes” and “Viva La Vida”, “Violet Hill” with its nice guitar twang, strong bass and the piano — you get the picture. Every song on this album has a unique touch to it that makes it special to listen to. And the music is extremely catchy as well. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself spinning the album in your music player for the tenth time at a stretch.

The first single from the album was “Violet Hill”. A somewhat trippy intro leads into Chris Martin singing ‘It was a long and dark December…’ (a little Coldplay trivia — Chris Martin sung this line to bassist Guy Berryman way before Coldplay was formed. And after hearing this line, Guy agreed to join the band). The song draws up feelings of long lost love. The lines ‘If you love me, won’t you let me know / If you loved me, why’d you let me go?” speak of the ups and downs of relationships. A true Coldplay track, filled with emotion, feeling and a lot of love. The next single off the album was “Viva La Vida”. The song is about the rise and fall of a king and has a happy, uplifting feel to it provided by violins and cellos. There are very subtle references to the French revolution in this track.

There is a complete absence of Chris Martin’s falsetto in this album. I think this style suits him best and I bet many people would agree with me. I found it immensely annoying to listen to his voice in that high octave throughout the previous albums. Also, guitarist Jon Buckland is in fine form on ‘Viva La Vida’, and the Edge-ish tone and twang brings me back some good memories of classic U2 albums. Also, there is a very prominent R.E.M influence in this album.

Anyway, I have listened to this album scores of times since its release, and I’m not stopping anytime soon. Definitely recommended.

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