The Rise And Fall Of Coldplay? - By Volume

Gotta get out, before my heart explodes. Candy Says - Not Kings

The Rise And Fall Of Coldplay?

Adam contemplates Coldplay's career as a result of their newest song "Magic". Thing about Coldplay though, it's never been about their past, but where they're going next. Author: on April 9, 2014
Comments (0)

Reviewing Coldplay’s 2011 pop stomping Mylo Xyloto at SputnikMusic, I swooned over the colour of it all. I’ve always had a problem with Coldplay, which is to say I’ve never had a qualm whatsoever. While their detractors have pulled apart the least edgy edges of their sound in an impressively diverse catalog of ways, I’ve found new ways to appreciate them in much the same vein. Parachutes was soft, introspective and beautiful; Viva La Vida was bold (particularly in context) and remarkably compelling. I myself have spent afternoons arguing with fellow By Volume writer Robin Smith that X&Y was overblown and misguided. Recently, though, I wandered back down one of those winding YouTube paths and found myself, circa 2005, in an arena in Montreal as Chris Martin performed “Talk” through a crowd member’s mobile phone, and I suddenly felt oddly proud of the sheer size of that record. Shortly after X&Y broke all sorts of records, Martin said he thought the band should aim to get “better, not bigger”.


The debuts of two new studio recordings in the last few weeks – the first an unashamed Bon Iver rip-off, the second a nu-Parachutes sway – beg the question of Coldplay’s place in contemporary pop music. This is a band, I explained to a friend yesterday, that at the peak of their fame were undeniably a rock band. It’s easy to forget that Parachutes itself was nominated for a Mercury Prize — the hindsight-laden declarations of “derivative!” hold no real water in reality — but songs like “Speed of Sound” had unequivocally arena-ready guitar riffs and positively rocket-fuelled choruses. Viva La Vida was the band’s defining statement to that date, with world music influence and beautifully unforeseeable tangents that held the same love for melody but far more prowess and daring than ever before. There looked to be a narrative, but Coldplay did an about turn to release the shamelessly (and brilliantly) populist Mylo Xyloto. And with new track “Magic”, seemingly a blueprint for upcoming record Ghost Stories, I’m left to re-analyse Coldplay’s career trajectory in a new light, one that wonders – if only for a moment — if there’s more than ever met the eye.

What sets it off is that you can hear the same gentle yearning in “Magic” as in those halcyon songs like “Trouble”. It’s universal, wide-reaching, vague – sure – but its delivery, lacking in bells and whistles, as well as its gorgeous simplicity, makes it a track to revisit and just enjoy. You won’t find anything new on the seventh listen like you might have within “Life in Technicolor ii”, but you can fall backwards into it, mesmerized. In this sense, Coldplay lost a bit of themselves – the humble parts – with their foray into the more experimental. They bought a bakery in London and turned it into the studio, hired Brian Eno to teach them to abandon all sense of musical predictability, and made an album that looped back round to the start again when it ended. For a band that was the butt of many jokes, it felt wholly unnatural from an outside perspective, but genuinely glorious. My iTunes still hasn’t recovered from how much I wore it out with “Viva La Vida” in the two weeks after its release.

So it all demands to know whether maybe, after everything, Coldplay have just been doing what they felt like all along, rather than following this neat arc to the moon and then beyond. There were forced moments on X&Y, and the return to old roots on their new album makes it seem like what irked Martin and company was less the size of the narrative and more the narrative at all. Viva La Vida postured as a concept album but its main theme was that Coldplay had abandoned their shackles; Mylo Xyloto saw them, I suppose, enter the realm of psuedo-post-modernism, throwing off any sense of cohesion or restraint. Parachutes and A Rush Of Blood To The Head were early-day masterpieces; they were similar, sure, but not the same. If Ghost Stories is a more sombre affair, my real question is: where will Coldplay go next? Is this the calm before the storm, or is it the winding down? Does it, even, foreshadow a Chris Martin solo album? Or am I just ascribing way too much structure to the lifespan of a band who’ve known for almost a decade that they’re free to wander wherever the hell they please?

You might like...


AlunaGeorge – Body Music
read more
six feet
King Krule - 6 Feet Beneath The Moon
read more
Zee Avi - Nightlight
read more
Kairos — Kairos EP
read more
Islands - Wave Forms
read more
The Cape Race - Digging For Gold
read more
Mount Kimbie - Cold Spring Fault Less Youth
read more
Lust For Youth - International
read more

Stay on top of the best new music!

By Volume Weekly is a digest of the newest, sharpest music across genres and boundaries. We'll send you one easy email a week and nothing else. Just tap in your details below and you're ready to go.
* indicates required