Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Coldplay: Viva La Vida

I wanted to give myself a few days to let the new Coldplay album sink in before making any judgments. Their three previous CDs had to grow on me, and so I knew Viva La Vida would need some time to work its magic as well. But I've listened to it in full enough at this point to comment on what I like... and what I could've done without.

But first let me say that I think anyone who didn't get the pre-release version of the CD got the shaft. Two of my favorite songs--"Lost?" and "Lovers in Japan (Acoustic Version)" do not appear to be on the 10-track, "normal" album that is selling on Amazon.com--though "Lost?" is listed as a "bonus song" on the iTunes version.

I've read quite a few "professional music critic" reviews of Coldplay's latest effort, and I have to admit to being pretty shocked at how differently I feel about the album. Either the critic raved on and on and thought it was their best CD ever (which I strongly disagree with), or they loved everything I hated (namely the track "42," which I find totally annoying, or when Chris Martin sings in an abnormally low voice just to prove that he can).

So, for what it's worth, here is my normal-person's take on Viva La Vida.

What's Good:
- The title track, "Viva La Vida," is my favorite "fast" Coldplay song to date. Nope, I was never on the "Clocks" bandwagon, sorry.

- "Lost?" is the best "slow" song of the CD, and is much better than the main version of the song, entitled "Lost!" (Notice the different punctuation marks--those cheeky Brits.) So if you don't have the version of the CD with "Lost?" on it, do yourself a favor and download that one separately from iTunes. I really hope when I see them in concert next month they play this stripped-down version...

- The pretty much instrumental "Life in Technicolor" is catchy, "Violet Hill" has grown on me, and "Lovers in Japan" is instantly likable, but as I mentioned above, the acoustic version available through the pre-order is much better.

- Overall, there is only one song I really don't like, so I feel that the album as a whole is a success.

What's Bad:
- Unbelievably, there are not one, not two, but THREE tracks that are in between 6:30 and 7:07 minutes long because they actually have more than one song contained within them. As I wrote almost exactly two years ago today, I HATE HIDDEN TRACKS. WHY do bands do this?!?! It makes no sense! All it does is annoy the hell out of everyone.

On Coldplay's latest, they do it with the non-acoustic version of "Lovers in Japan," which has "Reign of Love" tagged on to it. "Yes" also includes the trippy "Chinese Sleep Chant." And finally, "Death and All His Friends" has "The Escapist" tacked on. Why, guys, why?!?!!? I'm threatening to make my husband break them up using his fancy Mac audio software just so I don't need to keep getting angry every time I play these songs.

- As I mentioned above, I can't stand the song "42." It starts out with a whiny, sing-songy Chris Martin proclaiming, "Those who are dead are not dead, they're just living in my head." What? Later when the song picks up its tempo, he's sing-shouting, "You thought you might be a ghost? You didn't get to Heaven but you made it close."

Now, I've overlooked some mega-stupid lyrics in my day, but I just can't get past those. And like I said yesterday, what's with all the ghost talk lately? Anyway, this song just rubbed me the wrong way.

But in the whole scheme of things, that's not such a big complaint, now is it? I'm just happy that I didn't hate the CD, because I really do love the band and I was hoping that I wouldn't dread hearing all of the new songs performed live when I see them next month. Now I know I'll be able to sing along to the vast majority of them, which is good for me but bad for whoever is going to be sitting next to me.

Speaking of Coldplay in concert, did anyone happen to catch the free Madison Square Garden show last night? If so, please let me know your take. Kind of weird that it was only an hour... but I guess you get what you don't pay for, huh?

- e


Unknown said...

e - have you ever checked out Keane? They're similar to Coldplay, but very distinct; definitely worth listening to.

Erika (aka "e") said...

Hi there Sheila -

Yes, I have listened to Keane. But for whatever reason, I'm just not as into their stuff, though I do really like "Somewhere only we know." I think once the lead singer went into rehab I was turned off... I have little patience for that kind of thing, fair or not. Maybe I'll have to give them another try.

- e

Christy G said...

thanks for this review!! i was thinking about getting it, so this helped. i must say i am super jealous you get to see them in concert!! i can't tell you how much i miss your LOST posts on your other blog (or just LOST for that matter), but this blog definitley makes good filler :)

Anonymous said...

Come on, e! "Those who are dead are not dead, they're just living in my head." Martin's obviously a Lost fan!

Anonymous said...

Hello, e! Thanks so much for reviewing. Do you have any idea how to get the acoustic version of Lovers in Japan? I've been having trouble deciding whether I liked the album or not, and I have to say it is a dissapointment since X&Y. Maybe that would have changed if I got the pre-sale! Blast!

Anonymous said...

Have you ever had anyone close to you die? If you have, try to understand the lyrics from that perspective. If not, I don't really value your judgment...