Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends

Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends

4.5 125
by Coldplay

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When Coldplay sampled Kraftwerk on their third album, X&Y, it was a signifier for the British band, telegraphing their classicist good taste while signaling how they prefer the eternally hip to the truly adventurous; it was stylish window dressing for soft arena rock. Hiring Brian Eno to produce the bulk of…  See more details below


When Coldplay sampled Kraftwerk on their third album, X&Y, it was a signifier for the British band, telegraphing their classicist good taste while signaling how they prefer the eternally hip to the truly adventurous; it was stylish window dressing for soft arena rock. Hiring Brian Eno to produce the bulk of their fourth album, Viva la Vida, is another matter entirely. Eno pushes them, not necessarily to experiment but rather to focus and refine, to not leave their comfort zone but to find some tremulous discomfort within it. In his hands, this most staid of bands looks to shake things up, albeit politely, but such good manners are so inherent to Coldplay's DNA that they remain courteous even when they experiment. With his big-budget production, Eno has a knack for amplifying an artist's personality, as he allows bands to be just as risky as they want to be -- which is quite a lot in the case of U2 and James and even Paul Simon, but not quite so much with Coldplay. And yet this gentle encouragement -- he's almost a kindly uncle giving his nephews permission to rummage through his study -- pays great dividends for Coldplay, as it winds up changing the specifics without altering the core. They wind up with the same self-styled grandiosity; they've just found a more interesting way to get to the same point. Gone are Chris Martin's piano recitals and gone are the washes of meticulously majestic guitar, replaced by orchestrations of sound, sometimes literally consisting of strings but usually a tapestry of synthesizers, percussion, organs, electronics, and guitars that avoid playing riffs. Gone too are simpering schoolboy ballads like "Fix You," and along with them the soaring melodies designed to fill arenas. In fact, there are no insistent hooks to be found anywhere on Viva la Vida, and there are no clear singles in this collection of insinuatingly ingratiating songs. This reliance on elliptical melodies isn't off-putting -- alienation is alien to Coldplay -- and this is where Eno's guidance pays off, as he helps sculpt Viva la Vida to work as a musical whole, where there are long stretches of instrumentals and where only "Strawberry Swing," with its light, gently infectious melody and insistent rhythmic pulse, breaks from the album's appealingly meditative murk. Whatever iciness there is to the sound of Viva la Vida is warmed by Martin's voice, but the music is by design an heir to the earnest British art rock of '80s Peter Gabriel and U2 -- arty enough to convey sober intelligence without seeming snobby, the kind of album that deserves to take its title from Frida Kahlo and album art from Eugene Delacroix. That Delacroix painting depicts the French Revolution, so it does fit that Martin tones down his relentless self-obsession -- the songs aren't heavy on lyrics and some are shockingly written in character -- which is a development as welcome as the expanded sonic palette. Martin's refined writing topics may be outpaced by the band's guided adventure, but they're both indicative that Coldplay are desperate to not just strive for the title of great band -- a title they seem to believe that they're to the manor born -- but to actually burrow into the explorative work of creating music. And so the greatest thing Coldplay may have learned from Eno is his work ethic, as they demonstrate a focused concentration throughout this tight album -- it's only 47 minutes yet covers more ground than X&Y and arguably A Rush of Blood to the Head -- that turns Viva la Vida into something quietly satisfying.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Wb / Parlophone


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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Coldplay   Primary Artist
Phil Harvey   Group Member
Chris Martin   Group Member
Will Champion   Group Member
Guy Berryman   Group Member
Davide Rossi   Strings

Technical Credits

Markus Dravs   Producer
Brian Eno   Producer,Sonic Environment
William Paden Hensley   Engineer
Rik Simpson   Producer
Coldplay   Artwork
Andy Rugg   Engineer
Chris Martin   Composer
Will Champion   Composer
Guy Berryman   Composer
Jonny Buckland   Composer
Jon Hopkins   Producer,Coloring
Dan Green   Engineer
Jason Lader   Engineer
Olga Fitzroy   Engineer
Tappin Gofton   Art Direction
Dominic Monks   Engineer
Brian Thorn   Engineer
Jan Petrov   Engineer
Michael Trepagnier   Engineer
Vanessa Parr   Engineer
François Chevallier   Engineer
Dave Holmes   Management
Eugène Delacroix   Cover Painting

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Viva la Vida 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 125 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Even by just looking at the cover of this album you can tell that it is different than Coldplay's previous releases. Where those ones were minimalistic and spare, Viva La Vida is exploding with color in every inch and so the same can be said for the music. Departing from their usual mellow, Chris-dominated formula that was gradually becoming stale (Speed of sound = Clocks?)Coldplay uses this opportunity to show off a much richer, more vibrant album than any of their previous ones. Here Chris takes a step back and Will, Guy and Jon step up, resulting in a very well-rounded sound. I've listened to this whole album on repeat for a good couple of hours and I likely won't stop anytime soon.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am so mad at myself for buying this CD. I downloaded without listening to it first. It’s horrible. It is the most bland, watered down, uber-mainstream and uninspired excuse for music I’ve heard in a long time. Coldplay has resorted to adding ethnic and Louisiana-styled sounds to their songs – in a feeble attempt to make them interesting. It doesn’t work. I’d rather pull my fingernails out slowly with pliers than listen to this CD. Yes, it’s that bad.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fallen Kingdom ;D that is what brought me to buy this!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a HUGE fan of far ive only heard one song on this CD and its AWESOME!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The new single is differnet and so awesome. I am so in love with coldplay!!!! i've been waiting for something new from the guys and it's coming in june!!! it's like christmas in june.
Guest More than 1 year ago
after only hearing the first single, i'm so excited for this release. it can't come soon enough. one of my absolute favorite bands.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've only heard 2 songs from the new album: Violet Hill and Viva la Vida. They're both sensational and I've fallenin love with Coldplay with a new burning passion. We're in the countdown stage now! The challenge now is just to wait...
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love Coldplay! They's re amazing!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Well there just is no excuse for a major band on their fourth effort to come out with an album like this. It's more of the same and Coldplay fans are sure to like it. but it's just not interesting at all. if it is even possible, it is lyrically more stupid than X&Y, and most tracks sound like they were made with garage band. Chris' voice is good. clear, and isn't in falsetto the entire album. Guitar work is boring at best... I thought these guys were professional musicians?? anyway. very boring, nothing new, or pioneering. maybe two catchy songs.. but if you want more, find a different band
Guest More than 1 year ago
When i heard violet hill i knew this album would be amazing i am counting to the release date i cannot's going to be amazing
Guest More than 1 year ago
Coldplay termed this their experimental album, and it shows off a broader musical scope, leaving the piano fallback behind and gaining interesting guitars and worldly instruments to complete a new sound. Though not entirely new. Coldplay does a good job of keeping their sound that will appeal to fans, while ditching the falsetto all the time. Whoever said this album is lyrically poor needs another listen, for it's their most political album to date as well. The lyrics could use harsher language at times, as the messages are subtle (perhaps thats why it was taken as "stupidity"), but the messages are there. "Lost!" is lyrically beautiful, and "Violet Hill" and "Death and All His Friends" speak strong political messages. All in all, it's not their best album but a strong fourth for a band that's managed to keep their originality and power in a genre of sellouts.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have heard the 2 singles and they are espectacular, I have also heard clips of the other tracks on the album and they were great... These guys are geniuses.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album has it's moments, unfortunately, they are few and far between. Some of the songs are complete tripe, others sheer genius, musically speakign. Overall, the album strikes a decidely mediocre tone. Imagine the Beatles meeting Radiohead in a 1980s synthesizer bar - that's this album.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album so far sounds great i have heard the two released songs (violet hill and Viva la Vida) and they both sound great.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love the unique sound of Chris Martin and his group. They deserve to go to the top with this cd. Please get the other junk off the radio.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I personally think that if you are Coldplay fan, that can accept change, then you should by this album. It is very good, sounds different but that what makes Coldplay (the different sound). The lyrics are amazing for every song. Just likes it been on every other studio album they've done. But if your not up for change don't bother.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This album is amazing. I have now gained more respect for Coldplay even though I loved them in the past. It is good that they made changes. I am one of those people as Coldplay puts that is made fun of for listening to them. i don't care what those non-Coldplay Fans say. Coldplay is still rocking. In my opinion the the track LOST! is probably the best song on the album next to VIVA LA VIDA. A must have for Coldplay fans!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Everyone will have their own opinions regarding this album, and that is a given. As a Coldplay fan myself, I believe fellow fans will be satisfied. I have heard the album, through and through. I must say that it is more listenable than their previous, X&Y. There is an air of feeling with these new songs that is familiar, and comfortable. And in my humble opinion, comfort is important, especially when dealing with Coldplay. Now, that's not to say that these songs aren't daring to step into new boundaries. If the album name wasn't enough, Coldplay introduces some new sounds, with a Latin flare to "Cemeteries of London," and the Hip Hop beat driving "Lost," as prime examples. While X&Y wasn't a terrible album, it pales in comparison to Viva la Vida. With a good combination and ratio of creativity and familiar sound, this new album is bound to impress. Not every album can be a masterpiece, and it holds true for Viva la Vida. I found myself wanting more from certain parts of songs, almost as if they were too short, or ended too abruptly. I'm sure there are more things people would have issues with, but that is my only gripe. It's hard for a band to outdo themselves, but Coldplay has made the right decisions in succeeding their previous work, X&Y. Revisiting a familiar sound and daring to implement influences, this album will keep Coldplay fans satisfied.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While Coldplay's previous records have had several instant tunes that would stick into your head, "Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends" takes a while to grow on you as the title track is the only song that really seeps into your membrane immediately with the introductory orchestral riff. Not to mention, it has some of Martin's strongest lyrics ever. "Viva La Vida" is an album that takes a solid 4-5 listens before you can absorb everything and come to a conclusion about it. But that's not to say there are great tracks that should be Coldplay concert mainstays in the years to come. This is apparent in the form of "Lovers in Japan/Reign of Love" and "42", both of which respectively exhibit the brightness and darkness that emanates from Martin's piano. "42" especially sees Coldplay really pushing its boundaries with the song's 3-section arrangement in the vein of Radiohead's "Paranoid Android". Although not as grandiose, it's a sign of the band's desire to branch out and not rely on songwriting styles that have brought it success in the past. Unlike some of the cheerier songs Coldplay is known for, "Cemeteries of London" has a haunting quality with its moody piano lines and talk of witches and ghost towns. Although one of the more gloomy cuts, it's one of the best, showing a darker side of the band that is typically unseen. Even more atypical is the Middle Eastern string arrangement in "Yes", further proof that Coldplay seems eager to try anything. Even with Brian Eno at the helm along with other producers, his influence doesn't overshadow the band. The soundscape at the beginning of "Violet Hill" might scream Eno, but his presence is felt in the colorful musical palette that Coldplay employs here in creating atmosphere and space, far from the skeletal form that existed on "Parachutes" in the form of piano and acoustic guitar. As the pivotal line in the closing track states, Coldplay doesn't "want to follow death and all of his friends" by simply rehashing its style and beating its past successful formulas to death, the ones that made "Clocks" and "Speed of Sound" pop radio hits. Like its musical contemporaries that have constantly evolved and progressed, Coldplay clearly seems to be aiming for longevity on "Viva La Vida" so as not to fade into oblivion. It might make for a listen that isn't instantly gratifying, but something that will hopefully be appreciated in the long run.
Guest More than 1 year ago
as a musician who plays guitar, percussion, sings, flute, and a bunch of other instruments, plus i am a music teacher, take it from me that this album is wonderful! i have been reading other's reviews here and i truly wonder if those who rated this low actually listened to the album in full at least 2-3 times. it is set up like you are listening to a movie. overture (life in technicolour), the a-side being the exposition, "yes" being the extender and more development, and then you have the stand alone moments with a wonderful ender in "death and...". i was just astonished by the depth of the lyrics, the sheer boldness of some of the pieces, and the surprise of how low chris martin's voice goes in "yes." of course, the title tracks are amazing, and i am so happy they used a timpani on the album. they basically expanded their horizons, proving that they truly deserve the success they have earned. when you get this album, listen to it, let it sink in, then if you have the previous albums, just play them in order. you will be in for a treat with where they started and how far they have come in ten years. just sit back and enjoy the ride that is Viva La Vida! :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
listening to coldplay in general is more than enough for inspiration, and simply loving everything. this cd viva la vida is a great addition to life itself.. =" the vocals and beats are just fantastic. i give it alot of credit. and they did great. love it ! i tell you !
Guest More than 1 year ago
Love it! If you love Coldplay, you must get this album.