Coldplay, "Mylo Xyloto" (Capitol)
It's not often that you listen to a song and think, "This would sound terrific in a stadium surrounded by 20,000 other people."
The thought comes instantly to mind upon hearing "Hurts Like Heaven," with its shimmering guitars, soaring vocals and atmospheric keyboards. Good thing, because Coldplay is one of the few remaining bands that can regularly fill such places — both the seats and with their music.
On "Mylo Xyloto," Coldplay sounds comfortable experimenting with their sound without sacrificing accessibility. The cathedral-like aura of their music recalls Simple Minds, but with better tunes, and U2, of course. Coldplay shares producer Brian Eno with U2, and he seems to be like a fifth member here. "Princess of China" is the best example of shaking things up, sampling a Sigur Ros track and adding vocals from Rihanna (who recorded them in L.A. while the band worked in London and Barbados; wonder if they've met yet?).
The story Coldplay is telling here is a little fuzzy and, frankly, you might want to set aside a lyric sheet. "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall" is major ear candy, then you notice it has 10 listed composers and still can't avoid lines like, "I'd rather be a comma than a full stop." Did all 10 sit around and toss out banalities?
Fortunately, the music is more interesting. Being big is a burden that crushes many bands. Coldplay lives up to the challenge.
CHECK OUT THIS TRACK: "Up With the Birds" isn't the best song here, but it's a feel-good album closer that starts intimate and ends anthemic.