The BAMM Argument: ‘Mylo Xyloto’, Coldplay

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BAMM writers Chris and Jasper face-off for and against a musical issue of the day. This time around – the pros and cons of the new Coldplay album ‘Mylo Xyloto’.

For (Christopher Davies):

Look – I’m not saying that Coldplay are full-on, balls-to-the-wall musical pioneers. I’m not saying that they sometimes can’t be a little bit insipid, or lyrically simplistic, or that their tunes haven’t been overused on a million ‘emotional’ reality TV show montages. And – here’s the kicker – I’m not even saying that Mylo Xyloto is their best album (it’s certainly not the one with the most pronounceable title). ‘A Rush Of The Blood To The Head’ retains that title almost ten years on.

Coldplay have never pretended to be anything other than purveyors of mainstream, melodic, instantly accessible pop music. What, exactly, is wrong with that? If they’d been trying to pass off the singalong ‘woah-oh’ choruses of ‘Hurts Like Heaven’ or ‘Paradise’ as monumental leaps forward in sonic engineering, we’d be right to sneer at them. Instead, people feel the need to sneer at Coldplay for that most base and annoying of reasons: because it’s fashionable to do so.

I say: enough. I say: more power to all the soccer moms who’ll be humming along when they get the CD for Christmas. Mylo Xyloto is great big warm-hearted Pop with a capital P: a flawlessly polished and produced collection of FM radio revenue-drivers. It reveals itself completely and brazenly within one listen, hurling out anthems that will no doubt put a sullen frown on the faces of Sonic Youth t-shirt wearers as they mutter into their bottles of Pabst. Good.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to put my lighter in the air … ‘All the hiii-gghs, all the loo-ooows …’

Against (Jasper van der Put):

I will be the last one to say there’s anything wrong with appealing to large audiences. I’m not one of those flimsy indie-hipsters who take pride in hating anything with an accessible hook. But why does Coldplay, once a herald of my teenage anxiety and lack of attention, go out of its way to prove they’re commercial schmucks? In a move not unlike Radiohead’s recent exploits in the beatscenes from London and Los Angeles in particular, Coldplay decided to explore R&B and electro as new sonic frame for their upbeat pop tunes. But unlike Radiohead there’s not much here in the sense of a symbiosis. They’ve simply adopted the idiom without as much as missing a beat.

Now, with most acts one would simply shrug its shoulders and go about its business. But this is Coldplay we’re talking about, once the most genuine band to dominate the world stage. Now, we have to rely on Chris Martin’s funny banter to convince us he’s still this down-to-earth geezer churning out a new record with his UCL mates.

I’m having none of it. I can’t help but feeling as if Mylo Xyloto heralds the demise of Coldplay as a actual band that plays music. It’s all gone behind a wall of processors and a deadly dose of ‘Eno-fication’ (on that note: Eno producing Mylo Xyloto feels awfully similar to Lou Reed doing ‘a Lulu’ ). All that’s left is Martin’s ever-heartfelt falsetto, and the notion of Mylo Xyloto being a concept album, an opera of sorts. I don’t want to sound like a conservative, as if I can’t allow Coldplay to expand their palette and explore new musical territory. I just can’t ignore my inner teen mourning over guys who used to be such awe-inspiring craftsmen of pop-rock gems. A waste of talent if there ever was one, I tell you!

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