Something Else! sneak peek: Coldplay, "Charlie Brown" (2011)

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If “Charlie Brown” is any indication, fans of Coldplay’s post-modern mixture of chest-bursting arena rock and quirky lyricism are going to be pleased by their forthcoming album Mylo Xyloto, due on Oct. 24.

After a thumping intro straight out of U2, “Charlie Brown” then cuts and runs in the way of every anthematic Coldplay favorite, even as Chris Martin’s vocal — again, this is right there in the playbook — works in direct contrast. So, yeah, lost boys meet in a desolate downtown, as the light drains away from the day. There then follows scarecrow dreams, smashed to smithereens inside a cartoon heart. Forget all that. The lyrics, as always, are lines from a tone poem, meant to trigger emotional, not intellectual, responses. And, well, they do.

Just that quickly, of course, everything comes crashing down — and even though you’ve heard it all before, it hasn’t been recently. After waiting, and waiting, for a follow up to 2008’s Viva La Vida, this moment of coiled, cinematic tension resonates all over again. It’s Coldplay being their old Parachute-era selves, with the music going one way and the written word going the other. Never as experimental as Radiohead, in particular after OK Computer, and never as aggressive as Oasis, this remains Coldplay’s principal claim to fame — and they haven’t moved one blessed inch off of it.

A lonely repeating keyboard signature then gives way to this terrific moment that somehow features both an emo-band chord progression (move over, Arcade Fire!) and this furiously aggressive rhythm. Nothing says “Coldplay is back” like Martin doing his oddly convulsive dance moves while all of his bandmates send out these crashingly well-constructed responses, right? It gets loud again, one more time, before dying out into a contemplative murmur.

Finally, there’s this: “We’ll be glowing in the dark,” repeated until it becomes a mantra. And, as the camera pans back, well … they are.

“Charlie Brown,” along with tracks called “Us Against the World” and “Hurts Like Heaven,” have been debuted over the past weeks in a series of Coldplay’s live performances. “Charlie Brown,” broadcast here on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, was recorded at UCLA’s Los Angeles Tennis Center as part of the Samsung AT&T Summer Krush concert series, with proceeds going toward the Grammy in the Schools music education program.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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