Mylo Xyloto

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This article is about the album. For the comic, see Mylo Xyloto (comics).
Mylo Xyloto
Studio album by Coldplay
Released 19 October 2011 (2011-10-19)
Recorded May 2009 – September 2011 at
The Bakery and The Beehive
(London, England)
Genre Pop rock[1]
Length 44:09
Label Parlophone, Capitol
Producer Markus Dravs, Daniel Green, Rik Simpson
Coldplay chronology
Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall
(2011)
Mylo Xyloto
(2011)
Coldplay Live 2012
(2012)
Coldplay studio album chronology
Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends
(2008)
Mylo Xyloto
(2011)
Ghost Stories
(2014)
Reversible artwork
Singles from Mylo Xyloto
  1. "Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall"
    Released: 3 June 2011 (2011-06-03)
  2. "Paradise"
    Released: 12 September 2011 (2011-09-12)
  3. "Charlie Brown"
    Released: 14 November 2011 (2011-11-14) (radio)
  4. "Princess of China"
    Released: 13 April 2012 (2012-04-13)
  5. "Up with the Birds" / "U.F.O."
    Released: 21 April 2012 (2012-04-21)
  6. "Hurts Like Heaven"
    Released: 27 July 2012 (2012-07-27)
  7. "Up in Flames"
    Released: 16 November 2012 (2012-11-16) (radio)

Mylo Xyloto /ˈml ˈzlət/ is the fifth studio album by British alternative rock band Coldplay. It was first released on 19 October 2011 by EMI, and later worldwide on 24 October. The band collaborated closely with acclaimed producer Brian Eno following their successful collaborations on Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, the band's fourth studio album.

Mylo Xyloto is a concept album and a thematic rock opera.[2] The album tells the story of a war against sound and colour by a supremeist government, set in the world of Silencia, an Orwellian society. Silencia has been taken over by a supremacist government, led by Major Minus, who controls the population through media and propaganda. His aim is to take sound and colour off the streets in hope to draw away "feeders", creatures that use such energy to hunt its prey. The album follows Mylo, a "silencer", who is one of an army tasked to hunt and track down "sparkers", people who harness light and energy and use it to create sparks, comparable to graffiti in real life. He comes across Xyloto, a sparker who is the most wanted by Major Minus. Through Xyloto, Mylo discovers his sparker abilities and his affiliation with the Car Kids, a major sparker faction founded by Mylo's parents Aiko and Lela. Drummer Will Champion has noted that the album is a story of the characters "falling in love and trying to escape together", with a general theme of "love conquering all".

Internationally, Mylo Xyloto charted at number one in thirty-four countries.[3] In the United Kingdom, Mylo Xyloto became Coldplay's fifth album to debut at number one, selling 208,000 units in its first week, and setting a one-week digital sales record with 83,000 copies sold.[4] Mylo Xyloto broke an iTunes record for digital downloads sales by selling over 500,000 digital copies in a week.[5] The album became the group's third to debut at number one on the US Billboard 200, selling 447,000 units in the first week. It was the UK's best-selling rock album of 2011, selling 908,000 copies.[6] As of 2013, it has sold over 8 million copies worldwide.[7]

Mylo Xyloto received mixed-to-positive reviews from music critics, with a score of 65/100 on Metacritic. While some found it to be overproduced, others praised its uplifting tone and new electronic sound. "Paradise" and "Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall" received a total of three Grammy Award nominations in 2012, while the album and "Charlie Brown" received two further nominations in 2013.

Background[edit]

Lead singer Chris Martin stated that he does not believe "bands should keep going past the age of 33,"[8] but later rephrased this to say that what he meant was that they must proceed "as if it's our last, because that's the only way to proceed" in December 2008, adding that he thought the band would never split.[9] Bassist Guy Berryman, who earlier wrote that the band will "just have to start work and see how it shapes up",[10] reported that the band would return to the studio:

"We've already got lists of song ideas. We never stop writing. We go into the studio with all the best laid plans then what we end up with is not what we intended. It's just exciting to wonder what will come out the speakers in a year's time. We have very exciting things lined up. It's time to take our music down different directions and really explore other avenues."[11]

In one interview, Chris Martin predicted the style of the incoming album as being less dominated by fanfare, and featuring a more "stripped-down" sound.[12]

Studios[edit]

In 2008, Coldplay established a recording HQ at a disused bakery in Primrose Hill, North London, where they recorded a big part of Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends.[13] Part of Mylo Xyloto was also recorded on the same place, however this time they used a new studio, near the original, called The Beehive. While a few overdubs and a lot of comping were recorded at The Bakery, a lot of live recording and live takes were done on the new studio.[14] The Beehive was described by Rik Simpson, one of the producers, as a "large room". One of the band's roadies blogged about the studio, describing it as having a "gorgeous reverb".[15] Still about the studio he said:

"Everywhere you go there's light streaming in. Even on a relatively gloomy British afternoon, it's noticeably bright inside. I can only imagine that this will be reflected in the new material."

Style and creation[edit]

Mylo Xyloto is a concept album, according to Chris Martin, "based on a love story with a happy ending." Two protagonists living in an oppressive, dystopian, urban environment, meet one another through a gang and fall in love. Lyrically, the album is inspired by "old school American graffiti" and "the White Rose Movement." Martin also said that the album was influenced by HBO TV series The Wire.[16]

Subway car in New York City. The 1970s graffiti of the city inspired the album.

Coldplay had stated on several occasions, long before the release, that they wanted the album to be "more acoustic" and "more intimate" than its predecessor, 2008's Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends. The band later said they got to a point where they were trying to make two records, a stripped-down album, that started to be recorded first, along with an electric one that was already being called Mylo Xyloto by the band. However they later decided to combine both albums. Drummer Will Champion explained that the band realized they couldn't focus on more than one thing at once, and songs like "Paradise" couldn't be played in an acoustic style.[17] Chris Martin pointed another song as a reason too:

"We have a song called Charlie Brown, which was the centrepiece of this other record we started first. We were playing the riff on an accordion and Guy came in one morning and said, 'I'm afraid I have to put my foot down. I don't want to speak out of turn, but I will not allow this song to be played on an accordion - that has to go in with the Mylo bunch'. So then we thought - let's just make one album."

In the end some songs composed for the acoustic album such as "Us Against the World" and "U.F.O" maintained the "stripped" approach, while others such as "Charlie Brown" changed into a new form. Songs from both records ended up on the final album, world beat elements from the predecessor Viva La Vida are present but the overall production of it became electronic influenced. The electro rock sound can be heard through the whole album, beginning with opening song "Hurts Like Heaven" which has synthesised sounds and vocals predominantly on vocoder.[18] The next track, "Paradise", also shows the band stepping outside of their comfort zone and going into the new electronic territory.[19] Additionally, this song has an R&B beat style, which is also featured on "Princess Of China". This track opens with an anxious blend of synths and guitars and then goes into an R&B type beat. The album has three short instrumentals which are included as noodling experimental electronic interjections on the record.

Artwork[edit]

The typeface created for the album's artwork.

The album's artworks were revealed on 12 August 2011,[20] inspired on graffiti the band worked again with longtime collaborators Tappin Gofton and, this time, also with British street artist, Paris. The band had already started to research and work with graffiti on their home studios, The Bakery and The Beehive, when designer Misty Buckley introduced Paris to them, as they were looking for a graffiti artist to teach them the techniques to do it. Although initially he was supposed to be just a "teacher", Paris stayed on the project until the end, producing part of the final work along with the band.[21]

Coldplay wanted it to be an explosion of vivid colors as a counterpoint to the subdued color palette of Viva La Vida, and at the same time there were lots of lyrics and codes they wished to add. Researches and development into street art started six months before the work had begun.[22] Then a graffiti wall was painted by the band itself and Paris, formed by nine parts.[23] Tappin Gofton wanted the whole evolution of the wall, so at the end of every day loads of super detailed photos would be taken from it.[21] In the end a picture including three parts of the wall was featured on the front cover, while the whole wall is featured on the center of the CD's booklet.

The final versions of the covers have a picture of the wall, half of the CD's were packed with the booklet flipped, showing the silver initials "M X" via a die-cut sheet placed over the photo on the front, while the other half was packed with the full picture and the full name of the album written over it.[24] Both covers use an original typeface created for this work; the new font is used in most of the album's graphic promotion.

Title[edit]

Chris Martin hinted at the album's title prior to release, saying it "will probably begin with an M."[25] During interviews the band has already given many different reasons and meanings to the album's name. In some they stated that it had no meaning and that they had had the title in mind for at least two years before deciding upon it.[26] But Martin also said it was reference to the album's characters, the boy (Mylo) and the girl (Xyloto) respectively.[2] Another meaning suggested by the frontman was that the name was supposed to be a graffiti tag for the band, relating "xylophone" to the word "xyloto".[27] Much of the art was done by Paris 1974.[28]

Release and promotion[edit]

The Mylo Xyloto Tour was noted for its extensive use of pyrotechnics, light displays and the use of Xylobands. (Pictured: Coldplay performing at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 6, 2012)

The album was set to be released in December 2010 as a "decade-ender", but was postponed to 2011 since the album was far from finished as Coldplay concluded their Viva la Vida Tour. Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland mentioned that the album would be released in the latter year.[citation needed]

The iTunes Store let users hear one new song from the album every day the week before until the album was released.[29]

The album was released on 24 October 2011 on CD and on vinyl. A special edition of the album that includes the CD, digital copy and LP disc along with copies of the bands studio notes, stencils, a poster, a pop up book and stickers was made available on 19 December 2011.[30]

Singles[edit]

On 31 May, Coldplay announced that their new song "Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall" would be released on 3 June at 12 pm BST via download.[31] The single contains elements of "I Go to Rio" written by Peter Allen and Adrienne Anderson.[32] On 21 June 2011, Coldplay's website announced that the band would release an iTunes exclusive digital EP containing the songs "Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall", "Major Minus", and "Moving to Mars" on 26 June.[33]

The album's second single, "Paradise", was released on 12 September 2011.[34] That same day, Chris Martin announced that Rihanna would be featured on "Princess of China". "Paradise" has so far reached #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and has reached the top 10 in 15 charts around the world. On 1 January 2012, it became the year's first number-one single in the UK and Coldplay's second chart-topper in their native country.[35] The song was also the best-selling rock single of 2011 in the United Kingdom, selling 410,000 copies.[6]

"Charlie Brown" was later confirmed to be the third single from the album, and the group performed the song on 23 January 2012 on the British TV series The X Factor. On that date, it was solicited to US Triple A radio, and was solicited to US adult contemporary radio the following day. The single received a release date of 3 February in most other territories except for the United Kingdom, where the single was released 12 March 2012.[36]

"Princess of China", a collaboration with singer Rihanna, was solicited to US mainstream radio on 14 February 2012 as the album's fourth single.[37][38] A digital release followed on 13 April in the United States and on 4 June in the United Kingdom.

"Up with the Birds" was released as a limited edition 7" vinyl single for Record Store Day on 21 April 2012, backed by "U.F.O." as its B-side.[39] The single, the album's fifth overall, was limited to 500 copies in the UK[40] and 1,000 copies in the US.[41]

"Hurts Like Heaven" was released as the album's sixth overall single on 27 July 2012, and was later solicited to US Triple A radio on 6 August.[42]

"Up in Flames" was released for radio airplay in Italy on 16 November 2012.[43]

Tour[edit]

Main article: Mylo Xyloto Tour

The promotion for Mylo Xyloto began in June with the release of the first single and the beginning of a series of performances on some of the most important festivals around the world,[44] including Glastonbury,[45] Lollapalooza,[46] Fuji Rock Festival and Rock In Rio.[47] The first time the band played live some songs from the album for a big audience was on Rock Im Park festival in Nuremberg, Germany, playing six new songs. Manager Dave Holmes said that the reason to play new songs on the festivals was to "invite people to the party" also on this he said: "...let the music do the talking, play new songs and get people talking about the fact you're playing new music."[48]

After the "festival tour", Coldplay began the proper Mylo Xyloto Tour in October 2011 with a series of rehearsal concerts in Europe, as well as a special concert in Johannesburg, South Africa, footage of which was used in the music video for "Paradise". A full-production show began in December 2011 in the United Kingdom. For this first leg, on the end of the 2011, the stage design incorporated graffiti made by the band and the band's artist Paris, it also had a catwalk linking the main stage to a smaller stage with an "X" shape. The tour continued into 2012 with shows in Europe,[49][50] North America[51] and Australia.[52]

Comic[edit]

On 10 July 2012 the Coldplay website announced a six-part Mylo Xyloto comic, with the first issue to be released at that week's San Diego Comic-Con International.[53] Published by Bongo Comics, the story followed the tale of Mylo, a "silencer", who, in the words of co-writer Mark Osbourne, is a part of a "war against sound and colour". Together with Osbourne, Dylan Haggerty writes the comic (starting in the second issue) with art by Alejandro Fuentes.[54]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 65/100[55]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[56]
Chicago Tribune 2/4 stars[57]
The Daily Telegraph 4/5 stars[58]
Entertainment Weekly C+[59]
The Guardian 3/5 stars[60]
Los Angeles Times 1.5/4 stars[61]
NME 5/10[62]
Pitchfork 7/10[63]
Q 5/5 stars[64]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[65]

Critical reception[edit]

Mylo Xyloto has received mixed-to-positive reviews from music critics. According to critic review aggregator Metacritic, the album has received a score of 65/100, based on 39 reviews, indicating "generally favorable" reviews.[55] Spin rated the record 7/10, saying that like its predecessor, "Mylo Xyloto draws from an expansive palette that makes Coldplay's first three albums sound even quainter". The reviewer noted that "where Viva La Vida showcased Coldplay's sense of adventure, this [album] feels more eager to please".[66] In a three-star review, Alexis Petridis of The Guardian judged the record's storyline to lack coherence, and he was skeptical of the album's purported pop influences, writing, "A lot of it just sounds like standard-issue Coldplay, replete with echoing guitars, woah-oh choruses and vocals that signify high drama by slipping into falsetto". He did praise the electronic flourishes, saying that the addition "genuinely adds a bit of freshness to a formulaic sound".[60] Josh Eels of Rolling Stone gave the album a score of three-and-a-half stars, calling it their most ambitious effort and saying that "the choruses are bigger, the textures grander, the optimism more optimistic. It's a bear-hug record for a bear-market world."[65] In a review for Entertainment Weekly, Melissa Maerz gave the record a "C+", interpreting it as an attempt by the group to sound less like themselves in order to reconcile their commercial success with the supposed stigma of being "as hated as a band can be". She wrote that "it's strange to hear Martin insist that it's 'us against the world'", particularly "within the same kind of expansive, soaring guitar-pop that's so adored by the world they're supposedly bucking against". Maerz concluded, "The world doesn't seem sick of Coldplay, but maybe they're sick of themselves."[59]

Pitchfork Media gave the band their best rating yet with a 7/10, writing that the band was "successfully continuing to explore the tension of wanting to be one of the best bands in the world and having to settle for being one of the biggest."[63] Q awarded the record a maximum score of five stars, saying, "their fifth album will, at the bare minimum, safely sustain their imperial position for a long time to come". Martin was praised for his vocals and Buckland for "riffs [that] twinkle and flare like meteor showers", as were Eno and Dravs for "spar[ing] nothing here in the way of sonic stardust". The review concluded, "Music this uplifting, this inspirational, belongs among the stars."[64] The Daily Telegraph's Neil McCormick called the record "irresistible", writing that its "mood is adventurous and the sound is luxuriously colourful, Martin's hook-laden piano lines are overlaid with sparkling guitar motifs and driven along by simple, direct beats."[58] However, Randall Roberts of the Los Angeles Times, in a one-and-a-half-star review, said that the record "sees the most appealingly unoriginal band of the '00s continuing on its path of least resistance by offering vague, neutral opening lines such as 'Once upon a time somebody ran away.'" Roberts was critical of Martin's lyrics, explaining, "Every touch of lyrical bitterness is followed by enough sugar to mask the taste, which might be good in the short term but isn't a recipe for long-term health."[61] Melodic magazine's critic Johan Wippsson, in a four stars out of five review, wrote that Coldplay has "taken ideas from others and sometimes a little too clearly", but felt that they "are even this time really on their "own" as we can here in epic 'Paradise' and 'Charlie Brown'".[67] Allmusic writer Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave Mylo Xyloto three-and-a-half stars out of five, writing, that it "has a leg up other Coldplay records for this simple reason: they're no longer attempting to mimic U2's portentous piety. They've embraced their schoolboy selves and are simply singing songs of love and good cheer, albeit on a grand scale that somehow seems smaller due to the group's insuppressible niceness."[56] Q ranked the album as the 5th best of 2011.[68]

Commercial performance[edit]

Coldplay playing in Toronto, September 2011

In the United Kingdom, the album sold over 122,000 copies in its first three days of sale according to The Official Charts Company. It debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart with first-week sales of over 208,000 copies, giving the band their fifth number-one album and the second-biggest first-week sales of 2011 behind Lady Gaga's Born This Way.[69] Coldplay is the third group to debut at number one with their first five albums, behind The Beatles (11) and Oasis (7).[70] The downloads accounted for 83,000 units to became the first album to sell more than 80,000 digital copies in one week, a record previously held by Take That's Progress (79,800 units).[71] In its second week on the chart, the album fell to number two selling 67,132 copies.[72] It was the best-selling rock album in the United Kingdom, selling 908,000 copies.[6] The album's second single, "Paradise", was also the best-selling rock single in the UK, selling 410,000 copies.[6]

Mylo Xyloto debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 in the United States, with first-week sales of 447,000 copies.[73] In Canada, the album debuted at number one on the Canadian Albums Chart, selling 65,000 copies in its first week.[74] The album debuted at number one in Australia on the issue dated 31 October 2011.[75] In its second week on the chart, the album was certified platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for shipments of 70,000 copies.[76] In Denmark, the album debuted at number two with first-week sales of 7,807 copies.[77] The album was certified platinum by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) for shipments of 20,000 copies in its first week.[6] As of April 2014, the album has sold 1,581,000 copies in the United States.[78]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Guy Berryman, Jonny Buckland, Will Champion and Chris Martin. "Enoxification" and additional composition by Brian Eno[79][80]

No. Title Length
1. "Mylo Xyloto"   0:43
2. "Hurts Like Heaven"   4:02
3. "Paradise"   4:37
4. "Charlie Brown"   4:45
5. "Us Against the World"   3:59
6. "M.M.I.X."   0:49
7. "Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall"   4:00
8. "Major Minus"   3:30
9. "U.F.O."   2:17
10. "Princess of China" (with Rihanna) 3:59
11. "Up in Flames"   3:13
12. "A Hopeful Transmission"   0:33
13. "Don't Let It Break Your Heart"   3:54
14. "Up with the Birds"   3:45
Sample credits[80]

Personnel[edit]

  • Credits adapted from album liner notes.[80]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label Format
Japan[130] 19 October 2011 EMI Music Japan CD, download, LP
Australia[131] 21 October 2011 Parlophone
Germany[131]
Worldwide[132][133] 24 October 2011 Parlophone
Poland[134] EMI Music Poland CD, LP
Italy[135] EMI Music Italy Download
25 October 2011[136] CD
North America[133] Capitol Records CD, download, LP
Brazil[137] 28 October 2011 EMI CD
Chile[138] 31 October 2011
Colombia[139][140] 9 November 2011 EMI Music Colombia, Parlophone

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