With the release of the Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall EP, Coldplay fans got a first taste of what’s to come from the band’s highly anticipated fifth album. Their last record (2008’s Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends) found them expanding their sound to encompass more world music influences and create a larger overall sound. This EP further explores new territory, while still maintaining the elements that make the band so easily distinguishable. Overall, it’s a huge tease for what has the potential to be one of the best releases of the year.
Initially, “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall” sounds quite unlike what would be expected from a Coldplay song, with its driving synth line and dancy vocal rhythm. The lyrics don’t seem to have much in common with the band’s previous work either, as Chris Martin sings about turning his music up and putting his records on. However, as the acoustic guitar comes in and the lyrics get more personal, the song begins to lock in to a sound more reminiscent of some tracks from Viva La Vida. After a brief part where guitarist Jonny Buckland takes over with a catchy riff that will appear throughout, another verse comes in with one of my favorite Coldplay lines yet, “I’d rather be a comma than a full stop.” The line seems to carry a particular truth with how the band has continued to grow and expand their sound over the years and especially with Viva La Vida and this EP. When the chorus kicks in, the song’s title is the main hook and (though it will no doubt bring up more instances of that quote from The 40-Year-Old Virgin) it’s a massive one at that. Though the song’s great as it is, I could easily see it working really well with a remix similar to “Lost+.”
The guitar-driven “Major Minus” is a big change from the sound of the previous track, and has a much cleaner feel to it. I don’t think many people think of Coldplay as having great guitarists, but this song should help to change that perception. From the nostalgic, yet fresh, opening riff to the energetic solo, the song could easily stand alone as an instrumental track. That said, Chris Martin’s voice comes across very well alongside the instrumentation and, in the chorus (of all places), acts more like an extra instrument than a singer with his “oo-oo-oo”s and minimal amount of actual words. The only problem I’d say that I have with this track is that I’m not really sure what the line “I hear crocodiles ticking ’round the world” means. I mean, it sounds like it could be interesting, but seems nonsensical. Overall, this is an upbeat, extendable jam that shows another side of where the band’s sound has expanded since their last release.
After the driving nature of “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall” and “Major Minus,” the introspective opening of “Moving To Mars” comes across as very reserved and instantly makes you listen closely to hear what Martin is singing softly over the evocative piano melody. As the track builds to the chorus, it reminds me quite a bit of some of the band’s older material, with its foundation in the piano part and the beauty of Martin’s upper vocal register. After a brief instrumental portion, the second full verse comes in with a sound much bigger than the first one, and the rest of the song is huge from there on out, while still maintaining the same direction started by the beginning of the track. The second instrumental break, though more focused on the melody in the guitar, stays true to what was started in the first break by the piano. I’ve seen Coldplay compared to Radiohead countless times, and I like to think that this song is what Radiohead would sound like if I actually enjoyed their songs. With a pretty string arrangement, the song fades to a close and ends the EP on a strong note.
All in all, this EP is a great release from a band that’s big enough that they shouldn’t (and really don’t) have to release EPs anymore. Though the three songs are diverse in sound and range from danceable to incredibly intimate, it is impossible to imagine someone mistaking them as the work of another band, which is testament to the talent possessed by the members of the group. Overall, if this is a hint of what Coldplay’s fifth LP will consist of, there should be no doubt that the album will earn some well-deserved spots on quite a few year-end lists and possibly top the incredible success reached by Viva La Vida.