- On 2008's VIVA LA VIDA OR DEATH AND ALL HIS FRIENDS, Coldplay follows up X&Y's accessible anthems by tweaking its signature Britpop sound with the aid of renowned producer Brian Eno, celebrated not only for his own innovative ambient albums, but also for his behind-the-boards work with U2. Eno's contributions don't result in a ZOOROPA-like foray into dance-pop, however--VIVA LA VIDA sticks with Coldplay's knack for mid-tempo majesty, but expands these tracks with studio bells and whistles that pull the group out of its stadium-ready comfort zone.
- Though the pulsing instrumental opener, "Life in Technicolor," might make listeners think that they're accidentally playing the latest M83 album, VIVA asserts itself as a Coldplay outing with "Cemeteries of London," a dreamy tune that finds Martin singing in a comfortable middle register. Still, the group's quest for a different sound is exemplified by the three distinctly different parts of "42," which range from piano ballad to post-rock workout, while "Violet Hill" boasts uncharacteristically amped-up guitars and crashing percussion. VIVA LA VIDA isn't Coldplay's most consistent offering, but it's still more unpredictable than past outings, and surprisingly intriguing.
Rolling Stone (p.73) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "[With] stadium-scale melodies and singalong choruses....The experimentation makes this their most musically interesting album to date..."
Rolling Stone (p.89) - Ranked #7 in Rolling Stone's 50 Best Albums Of 2008 -- "[A]n album that's massively expansive yet intimate enough to incite lighter-waving from London to Tokyo."
Spin (p.91) - 4.5 stars out of 5 -- "[T]here's no doubting that VIVA LA VIDA, with its sturdy melodies and universal themes -- think love, war, and peace -- is an album meant to connect with the masses....The band's triumph lies in how exciting they make that prospect seem."
Spin (p.51) - Ranked #09 in Spin's "40 Best Albums Of 2008" -- "[The songs] burned with the audible passion of a great band getting back on track."
Entertainment Weekly (p.65) - "[The album] feels emboldened at almost every turn. Jonny Buckland's guitars howl insistently; Martin has discovered sub-falsetto vocal registers; and a stark, recurring string section lends an edge." -- Grade: A-
Q (Magazine) (p.95) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[A]n emphatic success -- radical in its own measured way but easy to embrace."
Blender (Magazine) (pp.69-70) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "[The album] has all the hallmarks of daring artistic independence....Songs fade in and out through washes of somber electronics..."
Clash (magazine) (p.122) - "Coldplay have stretched their limits, reaching to capture the zeitgeist, and in doing so have made the album the universe has been waiting for....We get Coldplay with the windows thrown open. Album of the year? Most probably."
Clash (magazine) (p.67) - Ranked #14 in Clash's "The 40 Best Albums of 2008" -- "Here, visions were broadened, sonic landscapes lavishly crafted, themes of death and loss permeated..."