On Coldplay's fourth and latest album, producer Brian Eno attempts to use the same formula that worked for U2 by freshening up the band's reliable brand of emotive lyricism and comforting melodies with his signature ambient infusions. Unfortunately, this approach just ends up making Coldplay sound like U2. And that's the least of Viva's problems. Besides being highly dependent on overwrought ideas, the orchestration is especially excessive: "Lost!" uses booming church organs to bolster its religious tone, while "Yes" is smothered in violins. And as Coldplay aims for world domination, its instrumental palate likewise spans the globe, filtering South American and North African influences into its sound. In its drive to dazzle with these distracting new elements, though, Vida simply lacks straightforward, hook-driven pop songs.
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