Coldplay is part of a dying breed: rock bands that can sell out stadiums. Few have emerged in the last decade, though the old guard—from Springsteen to U2—still do blockbuster business. How fitting, then, that Coldplay’s fifth album, Mylo Xyloto, builds a bridge between yesterday’s rock stars and the urban acts filling the big rooms now, like Kanye West and Jay-Z—both pals of singer Chris Martin. It’s a brilliant gambit because it actually sounds like a natural extension of Coldplay’s big, radio-friendly sound. It’s also Coldplay’s most consistently listenable album since 2002’s A Rush Of Blood To The Head, though it resembles that album little.
After a short instrumental intro, Mylo kicks off with “Hurts Like Heaven,” a driving homage to LCD Soundsystem and a nice kick in the formula. (Coldplay’s members are expert formula-repeaters.) But from there, it’s a different recipe, with a series of songs that almost beg for a verse from Jigga. “Paradise” is the biggest, most obvious one, with its saccharine—but somehow acceptable—lyrics (“life goes on, it gets so heavy”) and loping breakbeat. If Martin hasn’t lined somebody up to throw down some rhymes on a remix, he’s missing out on some serious crossover potential. “Princess Of China” serves up a major player, though: Rihanna duets with Martin on a massive bit of pop-ready melancholia that should find a home on about six different radio formats.
Coldplay began as a melancholy Brit-rock band with a gift for hooks. The band lost its way somewhat through X&Y and Viva La Vida—which aren’t bad so much as forgettable—but it finds a new path to mojo here. That occasionally results in pop cheese, but those concerned by Coldplay’s clear interest in massive popularity probably jumped ship years ago. The rest are left with the best—maybe the only—rock band of the day capable of a truly engaging crossover. Get ’em in the studio with Drake, quick, and save the music industry.