Record labels think of a “career act” as a reliable chart-topper with a rich catalog. Meanwhile, bands define themselves as “career acts” by spending six months in South American churches recording songs with Brian Eno that are named after Frida Kahlo paintings. This darling schism may not bode well for the folks at EMI records, who are praying that Coldplay’s upcoming album will sell at least as much as 2005′s X&Y. Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends doesn’t really ring like The Joshua Tree, and phrases like “indulging experimentation” probably aren’t what the label wants to hear either.
“Viva La Vida” begins with a strident instrumental, “Life in Technicolor,” built as much on an arpeggiated synth foundation as it is on an acoustic guitar melody. The same instrumental is tacked onto the final song, “Death and All His Friends,” as a hidden track dubbed “The Escapist.”
In between, the band frequently breaks from verse-chorus-verse constructions, particularly on “42,” which is comprised of three distinct, seemingly unrelated sections. “Yes” shifts from a string- and tabla-driven rocker into a shoegazer-y breakdown, while a funky groove emerges from out of nowhere in the middle of “Death and All His Friends.”
Elsewhere, Martin and the piano are at the forefront of the shimmering “Reign of Love,” while “Cemeteries of London” conjures a foreboding vibe apropos of its title and “Lost!” swells with massive-sounding church organ strains.
Word is that “Lost!” was originally titled “Criminal Intent!” until Chris Martin realized that nothing rhymed with “D’Onofrio.” The band will undoubtedly drop a potential “I Continue To Still Not Find What Bono Was Looking For” before Viva La Vida‘s release on June 16.