COLDPLAY: Mylo Xyloto (Parlophone/EMI)
This is Coldplay’s fifth studio album and, true to form, the awkwardly titled Mylo Xyloto (from here on MX) has made its debut as the top selling album in Canada just like their previous three discs (the first album titled Parachutes topped out at No. 19 back in 2001).
In fact MX is also the numero uno selling album in the USA, the UK and most of the other countries that report this type of information, making Coldplay an international juggernaut worthy of even closer inspection.
To My Ears Coldplay have always been a better singles band than an album making band where their hits are the best songs on their records. unlike, say, The Beatles or Led Zeppelin whose entire albums usually hold up to close scrutiny. As such I would look for Coldplay’s best album to be released around this time next year to cash in on the Christmas rush as a Greatest Hits collection that will bear up to repeated listenings from start to finish.
Until then MX is Coldplay’s least impressive album to date,
although it is a solid to
so-so album and you cannot deny the garish sales figures.
Their big arena rock hit (I can already imagine the sea of Bic lighters) Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall was released several weeks before the full length album so that the new arena orchestral ballad Paradise has already started its climb near the top of the pops.
You can hear hit potential with Princess Of China that features a perfunctory guest spot by Rihanna, while the rest of MX is somewhat underwhelming and not too adventurous.
The spare, metronomic Up In Flames doesn’t really ignite, while the lone hard rocker Major Minus features a mild Rolling Stones-like swagger along with U2-like arena dynamics and loud/quiet prog-rock leanings that might work better in a stadium setting.
Until then, I eagerly await the Best Of anthology next year with one or two new singles that will most likely end up being the only Coldplay album I own so I can eject the filler.
Someone To Watch Over Me, Special
Edition CD & DVD (Sony)
This is the third year in a row that Susan Boyle has released an album in November and this new studio album makes its mark on the scene 364 days after her hybrid Yuletide seasonal and pop cover album, The Gift.
This time out Boyle has recorded an album of eclectic covers without any Christmas songs and I wonder if this will cut into her sales which we won’t know until next week as this disc only hit the shelves yesterday.
There is a more relaxed, introspective and mellow groove to Someone To Watch Over Me, a title that probably reflects Boyle’s mental health issues since the death of her mother and the smothering effects of stardom.
The songs here are more stately with less billowing production, although the lead off song, You Have To Be There (as in God), swells from pizzicato strings to a full-on choir and arena pop spirituality.
Boyle writes notes to all 10 songs here and the her message for this new disc is she wanted “a positive album that looked to the future.” That is why she chose transcendental songs like Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now, Paulo Nutini’s Autumn Leaves and Depeche Mode’s Enjoy The Silence.
To illustrate Boyle’s frustration at the world’s miseries she offers a hushed and breathy version of Tears For Fears’ ’80s gem Mad World, while she prays for soldiers overseas on Return.
Her take of Unchained Melody builds nicely without bombast while the Gershwin classic provides the title song to this worthy offering.
Note that this comes as a Deluxe CD & DVD with four videos including Boyle’s luminous take of Lou Reed’s Perfect Day.
Ryan Adams: Ashes & Fire (Capitol)
It has been three years between albums for the normally very prolific Ryan Adams. This is his 13th solo album after four albums with the legendary alt-country band Whiskeytown but his long layover hasn’t hurt Adams’ popularity who incidentally turned 37 years old just a few days ago.
The interest in Ashes & Fire was boosted by the extensive keyboard work here of Norah Jones and Benont Tench of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers who often both play on the same songs with piano and B3 organ.
The first two songs make me think Adams has been listening to a lot of late ’60s Bob Dylan with the two superb openers Dirty Rain and the title track but after this Adams finds his own groove between pensive ballads and mid-tempo songs that never really break a sweat while maintaining an even temper.
There is some lovely stuff here with the folky Come Home, the delicate strings of The Section Quartet on Rocks and the adult alternative radio accessibility of Chains Of Love.
Another fine addition to a body of work that is long and varied for one so young.
This album has been out for a few weeks now but Cobra Starship still hold down the number five position in the radio charts proving that, although they are one hit wonders per album, they still have a degree of staying power.
Group leader Gabe Saporta used to be in the dreary emo band Midtown before he had an epiphany that having more fun was more fun and he started this club-pop band Cobra Starship. I don’t think they will earn another hit off Nightshades, but this is a varied album unlike most dance club albums. Check out the rubbery bass lines on the retro disco song
Shwick and the retro ’80s electro pop of Anything For Love that sounds like an amalgam of Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, ABC and The Human League. And I think they may even be ribbing Justin Bieber on Fool Like Me.
But the only song here that really warrants repeated listenings is the big hit You Make Me Feel that radio is already playing to distraction.