It says something about Coldplay’s Top 40 assimilation that the most Rihanna-ish song on Mylo Xyloto isn’t the one that actually features Rihanna. “Life goes on, it gets so heavy,” Chris Martin sings over a booming hip-hop beat on “Paradise,” and by the time he mimics RiRi’s stuttered delivery on the hook, you’re already picturing him sharing the space under his umbrella.
Like 2008’s horizon-broadening Viva La Vida, Mylo Xyloto draws from an expansive palette that makes Coldplay’s first three albums sound even quainter: “Hurts Like Heaven” rides a zippy new-wave groove that justifies its Cure-conjuring title, while the future-soul “Up in Flames” is basically James Blake writ very, very large; those supersaturated rave synths from first single “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall” turn up again on the sparkling, real-Rihanna-assisted “Princess of China.”
But where Viva La Vida showcased Coldplay’s sense of adventure, this one feels more eager to please; the sonic detail accrues with such speed that it’s like Martin and his mates fear you’ll bail if they don’t grab you straightaway. (“Slow it down,” the frontman advises in “Us Against the World,” right before piling on layers of dramatic church organ.) Of course, that’s the implicit threat under which ?great pop songs live, and, for better or worse, Coldplay always rise?to that challenge.