Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends by Coldplay

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Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends by Coldplay
Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends by Coldplay

Album Released: 2008

Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends ::: Artwork

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1.Life In Technicolor2:29
2.Cemeteries Of London3:21
5.Lovers In Japan / Reign Of Love6:51
6.Yes / Chinese Sleep Chant7:06
7.Viva La Vida4:01
8.Violet Hill3:42
9.Strawberry Swing4:09
10.Death And All His Friends / The Escapist6:18


Why mess around with things when the last album you made was your best? Ah, but it wasn't well-received by the critics, and Chris Martin clearly cares about his band's credibility.

So Brian Eno is brought in to add something new to Coldplay. Let's face it, if you want to change your sound then go to Brian Eno - he might not overhaul you entirely, but he'll add enough to at least prove you're trying. And such is the case with the fourth Coldplay album.

I expected a five/six minute experimental opener, instead it's a 2½-minute tune soaked in atmosphere but with no vocals. Silly or brave?

Silly is the fact the album takes a good ten minutes to get going. The first three tracks amount to nothing less than the worst Coldplay album opening sequence to date. Indeed, it's not until "42" that Chris Martin manages to get that melancholy tone back that I breathe a sign of relief. But then what's this - a minute and a half in, "42" turns all funky. Now I can clearly hear Eno's influence - several tracks on Viva La Vida break apart in the same way, offering different songs within a song.

"42" leads nicely into the album's best track, the multi-part, 7-minute "Lovers In Japan" ... first half Coldplay pop, second half a lovely rolling piano thing soaked in atmosphere. The free download single "Violet Hill" sounds ever-so-slightly different, whilst still being Coldplay. And the title track is similar, although still hinting at the grandiosity that Eno is trying to beat out of the band. The closing track is another highlight - "Death and All of His Friends" being the second half of the rather long full album title - Viva La Vida or Death and All of His Friends.

For all of Eno's atmospherics and tinkling noises, Viva La Vida is very firmly a Coldplay album. It's unlikely to win over new converts, but existing fans will find much to enjoy here.

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by Reviewer: Adrian Denning (blogging at Adrian's Album Reviews)

It's always commendable when a band wants to progress artistically, but not all bands are capable of achieving that on their own. And as 'artistic progression' is such a nebulous and subjective concept anyway, without a modicum of guidance most bands end up engaging in experimentation or avant-garde posturing, expending a lot of energy without achieving any artistic growth.

Consequently, some bands seek counsel when it comes to progression, and that's what Coldplay did after the underserved lukewarm critical reception of X&Y. The band were eager to evolve, but were uncertain as to how to effect change, and their search for a sonic mentor brought them into contact with quite possibly the greatest producer in rock - the father of New Wave and Ambient, the guru of sound - Brian Eno.

Eno doesn't appear to be quite so much the 'hands-on' producer as he's been on occasion - he isn't a full-fledged partner and equal collaborator as he'd been with Bowie on their 'Berlin' trilogy, and he likewise abstains from getting involved to the point where he receives co-writing credits on some tracks as he had with Talking Heads.

Eno's relationship with Coldplay is more akin to his work with U2, adding layers of sound to the band's music but being sure to only 'enhance' and never 'create'. So the album is still very much a Coldplay product, with Eno putting his stamp on it as well, with the two parties finding an optimum balance on the artistic / creative side of things.

Eno's involvement leads to a far more sonically rich palette for the band to work with, as comparatively thin arrangements are replaced with a fuller, deeper, and considerably more layered sound. So, on a textural level the album is fascinating, as Eno - having spent decades honing his craft - is second-to-none when it comes to the structure and feel of sound.

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by Reviewer: Evan Lublinski (blogging at Evan Lublinski's Album Reviews)