The Bright Red Rose of Mylo Xyloto

Chris Martin once said “I’m 31 now and I don’t think that bands should keep going past 33."

Thankfully for us, Chris didn't take his own advice. The frontman for Coldplay is 34 years old now as they release their fifth studio album, Mylo Xyloto.

Age is a funny thing. I'm forty years old, and as a novelist, I'm still pretty young. Many writers just start warming up around my age.

For forty years my favorite rock stars and musicians have always been older than me. But no more. Nope. Today with the release and the first official listening of Mylo Xyloto, this foursome full of 30-something year olds has moved into being my favorite group out there.

Why? Because I have a beating heart and ears that can hear. That’s why.

Here’s the thing. The first time I heard that song "Yellow" and saw the guy singing it on the beach in that video, I didn’t like them. I thought, heard it and been there and not going there again. I didn’t really know these guys but that’s our culture and our world. A first glance and a first listen and an immediate opinion. Mine wasn’t glorious.

I grew up listening and loving Depeche Mode, The Cure, The Smiths, and New Order. I love new stuff too. The National. Phoenix. Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs was THE album for me in 2010. So it's not like I'm stuck in the past.

But back in 2000, my first initial response to Coldplay wasn’t like lightning.

It took “The Scientist” to get my attention. Then “Clocks”. Then . . . well, every song since then. Including a new appreciation for "Yellow" and other songs.

But now we have the new album. And I have to say I dearly love it. X & Y has its place for many, many reasons. And Viva La Vida is the soundtrack of a new man trying to figure it out. But this album has joy and beats and songs that make me want to hurdle anything and everything out there.

The band has it critics. They'll never be U2 or Radiohead. Look, there is only one U2. And I love Radiohead. They’re so Radiohead. But today, in the world we live in, I want Coldplay. I want something to stir my heart. U2 is majestic and has an amazing history.
Radiohead is cool and strange and funky. But you know, I need a little Coldplay stirring in my life. I really do.

“Charlie Brown” by Coldplay is the song I’ve played when I leave my office after writing all day and going back home to my family. I blast it (the live version that I found online) and it makes me feel lighter and brighter. For like four minutes. Kinda like those first Beatles songs made a whole world feel.

You think I’m exaggerating? I’m not. This music is Red Bull chocolate chip jalapeno joy.

I’m not a music critic so don’t quote that last sentence.

All I know is that I love “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall”. It’s fun and makes you want to twirl your four-year-old daughter around. It helps if she’s a diehard Coldplay fan like you.

All I know if that “Major Minus” is a funky rift that sounds snarly and edgy and a bit unsettling.

All I know is that I got teary-eyed when the fireworks first went off at Lollapalooza as I stood fifteen people away from the center stage and the sweet melodies of “Mylo Xyloto” played before heading into “Hurts Like Heaven.”


“Paradise” is the song that I play before driving our four-year-old to preschool. It’s beautiful and it just sets the tone for a beautiful day.

Then came “Princess of China” and I still can’t get over how much I love that track. I’ve always loved Rihanna and this was great. It leaves you wanting a ten-minute version. Or an entire album.

Yes, haters will focus on Rihanna's involvement as a sellout or as a change or as a marketing ploy.
Whatever. Grow. Evolve. Change. Morph. Do you want you to do. Create what you want to create.

Take a melody and make it yours.

Take a sweet sound and then make it you own.

Can you do that?

You don’t like that? Okay, fine. Don’t buy their albums and go to their shows.

Others will. Many others.

The album goes from vibrant passion to a more subdued and settled sound. Like a song like “UFO”. But think about it. That’s kind of like relationships. You have the joy and the ecstacy and the colors until you settle down.

What I didn’t expect at the end of Mylo Xyloto was “Don’t Let It Break Your Heart.” The utter energy and exuberance in that song. The drive and the passion and the shades blossoming up in a brilliantly-colored parachute.

This is when I know.

My favorite band now is younger than me. And they still have far to go and many more songs to sing and many more roads to travel.

The subdued “Up With The Birds” conjures echoes of Coldplay’s first album. At first. Any song with Chris Martin will conjure it because of his voice and delivery. It’s melancholy and even moody but utterly memorable.

But then . . . halfway through the song . . .


So fast and so easily played and so sweet.

In a world so broken and dark it shouldn’t be this easy to create something so sweet.

Maybe the same was said about The Beatles.

Yeah, I’m comparing the two and if you think that’s crazy oh well.

A foursome can still create a little joy in a bleak world. And they can tell a “simple plot” about a boy and a girl.

Then again, that’s the plot of any and every moving and memorable story.

A boy and a girl. Trying to figure it out in a bleak situation.

Maybe that’s why I love Coldplay.

Or maybe it’s just because their songs move me and make me a little happier.

Thank you Chris, Jonny, Guy, and Will for taking another leap of faith and giving us another album that will serve as the soundtrack to our lives.

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