It may be their best, biggest and boldest album yet, but Coldplay's Chris Martin knows which adjective he would use to describe the band's brand-new Mylo Xyloto:
"It's definitely a schizophrenic album ... it keeps changing sounds," he said. "That's why we called it such a strange thing, Mylo Xyloto. Because we felt like so many people have already made up their minds about us, both good and bad, that we can sort of start again from scratch and try and reflect all the music we listen to and we love."
That sentiment is readily apparent throughout Xyloto, an album full of walloping electronics, soaring choruses and quiet, tender ballads. In a lot of ways, it plays very much like the band's personal iPod, packing anthems like current single "Paradise" alongside artfully minimal instrumentals and hushed acoustic numbers like "U.F.O." Even Rihanna shows up, lending her vocals to the track "Princess of China." And that shuffling schizophrenia is due as much to the band's taste as it is the ethos of frequent collaborator Brian Eno, a man who practically lives to break down boundaries.
"Working with Brian, he was very much of the opinion that you should just be free to follow whatever you feel sounds best," Martin said, "without worrying about having to talk about it in interviews and everything and explain it."
And, given all that, it's somewhat fitting that Mylo Xyloto actually began life as a far different animal: a quiet, acoustic-based album. But as their songs began to grow, Coldplay quickly realized that their self-imposed parameters couldn't contain their ambitions, so they scrapped them and started from scratch. And, not surprisingly, the end result is a record that defies convention — and, of course, definition too.
"Very early on in the process of recording this record, we were playing a lot of acoustic instruments and we had it in our mind that we might try to record a small-sounding, intimate, reflective record," drummer Will Champion explained. "And [a song like 'Paradise'] came about, and it dawned on us that we couldn't play it in that acoustic style. So we thought, 'OK, we'll finish this one and then we'll do another record,' and the realization came very quickly that we can't really focus on more than one thing at once.
"So we decided to put everything in one basket, and some of those songs from the acoustic thing survived — the song 'Charlie Brown' was originally in that format and 'Us Against the World,' " he continued. "And I think putting all our eggs in one basket allowed us to kind of free everything up and allow the songs to dictate where they want to go."