"I hear Jerusalem bells a ringing
Roman cavalry choirs are singing
Be my mirror, my sword, my shield
My missionaries in a foreign field
For some reason I can't explain
I know Saint Peter won't call my name
Never an honest word
But that was when I ruled the world."
from "Viva La Vida"
Once again, Coldplay proves a pillar in Brit pop/rock with a genre-defining sound swimming in texture and ambience. Once again, they've yielded a hit album, selling more than 720,000 copies of Viva La Vida in its first week of release. Once again, it's an album rife with spiritual themes, packed with more explicit biblical imagery than 2002's A Rush of Blood to the Head and 2005's X&Y combined. And once again, many are expressing some frustration over Coldplay's lyricism. The band is consistent, if nothing else.
Considering that many classic bands have reveled in the cryptic (Radiohead), the abstract (U2), and the nonsensical (The Beatles), it's odd that some critics would be so quick to dismiss Coldplay's songwriting as meaningless. Most all the band members in previous interviews have openly shared a belief in God and some understanding of the Christian religion, so with all the consistent spiritual references on this album, is it really all pointless babble to hang their stylish sound on? Coldplay has also indicated that the song sequencing is important to their work, making >Viva La Vida worth exploring track by track.
After establishing a hopeful U2-ish mood with the short instrumental opener "Life in Technicolor," Coldplay immediately shifts gears with the comparatively somber "Cemeteries of London," which plays like an old English folk song gone alternative-pop. Chris Martin's words suggest a kind of ghost story that leaves us to wonder ...1
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