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Albums Reviews

Coldplay

Viva La Vida
EMI Virgin
[Four stars]

Lalitha Suhasini Jul 11, 2008
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This is Coldplay’s redemption song. The new zither-toting avatar of Chris Martin and the rest of his Brian Eno-ed band will make sure you forget the impotent 2005 release called X&Y in their fourth epic called Viva La Vida. X&Y might have been Coldplay’s eye opener to Eno’s electronica genius, but this is the real thing. If there’s a zither strumming wildly on one track, then there are Afro beats that swing in reggae into a beautifully morbid number – warming upto new instrumentation has definitely paid off for the band. Martin’s piano lines are bolder and Johnny Buckland is playing his guitar a little louder, but the end result doesn’t disappoint.

The album opens on a surprisingly buoyant note for the alt rockers, with ‘Life in Technicolor,’ an instrumental with Martin on the zither. ‘Cemeteries of London’ sounds like the ghost of ‘House of the Rising Sun.’ It’s instantly visual – you’re walking through bleak, grey London as Martin wails, “Save the night time for your weeping/Your weeping” and not even the clap beats or the angelic chorus can take away the gloom. ‘42’ embodies the Coldplay you know from ‘In My Place’ – the instrumentation is sparsely stretched across the track. The lyrics too are typically Martin: “Those who are dead are not dead/They’re living in my head.”

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The anthemic title track owes a lot to the robust string section which leads it it forward and the lyrics could be the band’s interpretation of Liberty Leading the People, a painting by French artist Eugene Delacroix that appears on the album cover. Or not. The abstractness isn’t a redeeming quality here but the hook line works and you’re humming along without a clue to what the song really means. And like bassist Guy Berryman recently admitted in an interview you’re left wondering how the band will pull this one off live.

Viva La Vida is a brave, new beginning for Coldplay. And if this the outcome of recording in a bakery, a nunnery, a magic shop and a church as the inlay claims, then Coldplay may not want to step into a studio too soon.

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