Coldplay’s Comeback With Rihanna Bested by Tom Waits: CD Review

Tap for Slideshow
Source: Parlophone via Bloomberg

The cover jacket of "Mylo Xyloto" by Coldplay. The new CD contains songs such as "Charlie Brown" and "Major Minus."

Close
Source: Parlophone via Bloomberg

The cover jacket of "Mylo Xyloto" by Coldplay. The new CD contains songs such as "Charlie Brown" and "Major Minus." Close

The cover jacket of "Mylo Xyloto" by Coldplay. The new CD contains songs such as "Charlie Brown" and "Major Minus."

Source: EMI via Bloomberg

Coldplay, the U.K. rock band, has released its fifth studio album, "Mylo Xyloto." The group has sold more than 50 million records. Close

Coldplay, the U.K. rock band, has released its fifth studio album, "Mylo Xyloto." The group has sold more than 50 million records.

Source: Mercury via Bloomberg

The cover of the CD "Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds." The U.K. songwriter's album teams him with a new band post Oasis. Close

The cover of the CD "Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds." The U.K. songwriter's album teams him with a new band post Oasis.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News.

Singer Peter Gabriel poses in New York on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2006. Close

Singer Peter Gabriel poses in New York on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2006.

Source: Press Here Publicity via Bloomberg

U.K. band Depeche Mode. The group has released "Remixes 2: 81-11" covering its career. Close

U.K. band Depeche Mode. The group has released "Remixes 2: 81-11" covering its career.

Source: XL via Bloomberg.

The cover of "TKOL RMX 1234567" by Radiohead. The 2-CD set remixes tracks from the U.K. band's "The King of Limbs" and has similarly themed artwork. Close

The cover of "TKOL RMX 1234567" by Radiohead. The 2-CD set remixes tracks from the U.K. band's "The King of Limbs"... Read More

Photographer: Jesse Dylan/Anti-records via Bloomberg

U.S. singer and songwriter Tom Waits. His new album, "Bad as Me," includes Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones on three tracks. Close

U.S. singer and songwriter Tom Waits. His new album, "Bad as Me," includes Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones on three tracks.

Source: Anti-records via Bloomberg

The cover of the CD "Bad As Me" by Tom Waits. The U.S. songwriter's latest CD covers musical styles from his career, including blues, gospel and folk. Close

The cover of the CD "Bad As Me" by Tom Waits. The U.S. songwriter's latest CD covers musical styles from his career,... Read More

Coldplay’s new CD is carefully crafted, immaculately conceived with Brian Eno and full of gently uplifting rockers. Such qualities have helped Chris Martin’s men to seven Grammy awards and 50 million record sales.

“Mylo Xyloto,” out today, is also about as bland as beige curtains and as revolutionary as a gray suit. It won’t be the favored soundtrack of many protesters in New York or London.

Coldplay makes more of the right moves this time, with stadium-sized statements. “Paradise” has a swelling chorus as well as a funny video, which has the U.K. band dressed as elephants -- a likely signal they are prepared to lighten up.

The single “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall,” as previewed at the Glastonbury summer festival, is cute; “Princess of China” features vocals by Rihanna. Fans will soon know these word for word and sing along at future Glastos.

There are three producers, with the excellent Eno credited for “Enoxification and additional composition.” Coldplay peppers the album with a strange concept about a love affair between characters called Mylo and Xyloto in a future world. It’s almost inspired, if still uninspiring. If they don’t save the world, at least they will save Parlophone. Again.

The recording is easy on the ear. There’s not much to dislike, and that’s the point. The best rock is edgy and risky, not dull and sounding like a poor copy of U2. That’s surely not what Coldplay intended. Sorry guys. It’s still rock music for people who don’t like rock. Rating: ***.

Noel Gallagher keeps to his trademark scowl on his “High Flying Birds” album. The cover was photographed at a Beverly Hills gas station, though the lights make it look like he’s under the nose of Concorde, his high-flying bird.

Perhaps unsmiley Noel should cheer up because this is the best thing made by the Oasis family in a long time. It’s considerably better than his brother Liam’s act Beady Eye.

There’s plenty of Oasis-like moments, some with twists such as added New Orleans horns and the Crouch End Festival Chorus, known for work with Ray Davies and others.

Yet none of the songs are up there with “Live Forever,” and the lyrics get silly on “Soldier Boys and Jesus Freaks.” Rating: ***½.

If all else fails, remix.

Peter Gabriel is going down the Sting route by adding strings on “New Blood.” Gabriel’s previous collection “Scratch My Back” did much the same with other artists’ songs. Now he’s reinterpreting his own catalog, never improving on the originals though occasionally, as with the orchestral “Red Rain,” creating something fresh and interesting. Rating: ***.

Radiohead has turned over “The King of Limbs” to remixers such as Modeselektor. The result is a two-CD recycle bin of spotty experiments called “TKOL RMX 1234567.” Rating: **.

To hear how remixing should be done, try Depeche Mode’s latest “Remixes 2: 81-11,” with revelatory versions of “Personal Jesus” and “In Chains.” Rating: ****.

Tom Waits, the old rascal, beats all the above. “Bad as Me” is his first studio album of all-new material since 2004, though the intervening years gave us his brilliant “Orphans” set and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Waits’s hickory-smoked voice sounds more bourbon-mashed than ever. That’s a compliment. He gargles his way though “Satisfied,” with backing guitar from Keith Richards, and runs through a gamut of styles: grunge, blues, gospel, with a sentimental return to the old drunken military-band sound that graced “Rain Dogs.” Rating: *****.

What the Stars Mean:
*****      Exceptional
****       Excellent
***        Good
**         Average
*          Poor
(No stars) Worthless

Coldplay is on Parlophone, Gabriel on Real World, Radiohead on XL, Depeche Mode on Reprise and Waits on Epitaph, available now. Gallagher is on Island/Mercury out in the U.S. on Nov. 8 and in the U.K. now. Most are available priced about $9, with a deluxe edition from $16. Download prices vary across services.

Information: http://www.coldplay.com, http://www.noelgallagher.com, http://petergabriel.com, http://radiohead.com, http://www.depechemode.com, http://www.tomwaits.com.

(Mark Beech writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the writer on the story: Mark Beech in London at mbeech@bloomberg.net or Mark_Beech on http://twitter.com/home.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.