Coldplay’s fifth album is full of emotional highs—and plenty of chant-along choruses. Recorded in the same abandoned London bakery where Viva la Vida was made and produced again by Brian Eno, the enigmatically titled Mylo Xyloto is a concept album about two lovers who find happiness amid the urban chaos around them. “I would love to reflect that there are still reasons for optimism,” says the famously self-deprecating Martin, who lives the urban life in New York’s Greenwich Village with actress-wife Gwyneth Paltrow and their two children, Apple and Moses, and counts Jay-Z and Beyoncé as friends. “The last thing anyone wants is another sad Coldplay album.”
Hopefulness is apparent everywhere, from the melodic sweep of “Paradise” to the urgent chimes of “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall.” Rebellion and love- conquers-all are the themes of “Us Against the World” and “Hurts Like Heaven,” with its “don’t let them take control” refrain. Guitarist Jonny Buckland, bassist Guy Berryman and drummer Will Champion provide a stirring backdrop to spirited songs like “Charlie Brown” and the U2-like “Major Minus.” The album’s darkest number is “Princess of China,” a synth-laden number that features a duet between Martin and r&b star Rihanna. “I could’ve been a princess, you’d be a king,” Rihanna sings, “could’ve had a castle and wore a ring.” It’s Mylo Xyloto’s edgiest track, a sign that Coldplay—after all the awards and multimillion sales—is still bravely striving for big, fresh sounds.