Where previous Coldplay records have grown ever more insipid, like a cup of tea repeatedly made with the same teabag, Mylo Xyloto proves unexpectedly dynamic. A concept album of sorts, it tells the story of a romance between the titular Mylo and Xyloto, two young lovers who meet in a dystopian city. The plot is thin, but it appears to have stopped Chris Martin and co from lapsing into their usual wooliness. “Hurts Like Heaven” sparkles with vibrant guitar-playing, “Paradise” is a stomping stadium anthem about thwarted hopes, and “Princess of China” teams Martin with Rihanna in an illogically catchy R&B-pop/arena rock crossover.
Brian Eno’s production is crisp, and while the lyrics contain the odd clunker – “Life goes on, it gets so heavy,” groans Martin, auditioning badly for Radio 4’s Thought of the Day – they also capture a topical sense of a lost generation struggling to get by in an unforgiving world.