Coldplay lets its creative flag fly on its fourth studio album, “Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends,” due June 17 via Capitol. “We’re still obsessed with making songs that can be sung to the rafters,” frontman Chris Martin says. “We just wanted to present them differently.”
To accomplish that goal, the group turned to co-producers Brian Eno and Markus Dravs, who adorn the material with grandiose embellishments the likes of which have never been heard before on a Coldplay album.
“Viva La Vida” begins with a strident instrumental, “Life in Technicolor,” built as much on an arpeggiated synth foundation as it is on an acoustic guitar melody. The same instrumental is tacked onto the final song, “Death and All His Friends,” as a hidden track dubbed “The Escapist.”
In between, the band frequently breaks from verse-chorus-verse constructions, particularly on “42,” which is comprised of three distinct, seemingly unrelated sections. “Yes” shifts from a string- and tabla-driven rocker into a shoegazer-y breakdown, while a funky groove emerges from out of nowhere in the middle of “Death and All His Friends.”
Elsewhere, Martin and the piano are at the forefront of the shimmering “Reign of Love,” while “Cemeteries of London” conjures a foreboding vibe apropos of its title and “Lost!” swells with massive-sounding church organ strains.
Drummer Will Champion credits Eno with upending Coldplay’s usual working habits in the studio. “Brian has this amazing ability to demystify wonderful music and make it seem very achievable,” he says. “We weren’t afraid to try anything.”
Coldplay recorded a number of other songs that did not wind up making the final track list, including “Postcards From Far Away,” “Lukas,” “Rainy Day,” “The Goldrush” and “Now My Feet Won’t Touch the Ground,” but it’s unknown if they will be released in some form down the road.
Here is the track list for “Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends”:
“Life in Technicolor”
“Cemeteries of London”
“Lovers in Japan”/”Reign of Love”
“Viva La Vida”
“Death and All His Friends”