Are Coldplay ”as hated as a band can be”? That’s what frontman Chris Martin recently told EW. True, a Seattle woman once assaulted a man who wouldn’t stop singing their mellow 2000 hit ”Yellow” at a karaoke bar. (According to the bartender, it took several bystanders to hold her down before she was arrested.) But sold-out stadiums full of glow-stick-waving fans would disagree. So it’s strange to hear Martin insist that it’s ”us against the world” on Mylo Xyloto — and even stranger to hear those fighting words couched within the same kind of expansive, soaring guitar-pop that’s so adored by the world they’re supposedly bucking against.
Maybe this is a new strategy: With help from electro-ambience whiz Brian Eno, who co-helmed 2008’s Grammy-winning Viva La Vida, they’re making a Coldplay record that sounds a little less like Coldplay. It’s telling that the best stuff echoes other artists: ”Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall” cops its melody from the Sacados’ ”Ritmo de la Noche,” and the Rihanna-featuring ”Princess of China” has the same dubby drums you’d find on, well, a Rihanna track. Pensive piano ballad ”Up With the Birds” even borrows lyrics from Leonard Cohen’s ”Anthem.” There’s some great arena-ready uplift here, but then, you can get that on a Snow Patrol record. What’s missing is the innovation that made Viva La Vida so dynamic. (Where has that Persian dulcimer gone?) The world doesn’t seem sick of Coldplay, but maybe they’re sick of themselves. C+