Longtime collaborator Brian Eno set the ground rules for Coldplay's fifth LP, recorded over the past two years in London. "He wrote a list of 10 commandments on the wall to keep us from treading the same ground," says drummer Will Champion. "One was 'Thou shalt make music like an Italian cook, with simple and strong flavours.'" The first two singles – "Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall" and "Paradise" – amp Coldplay's Imax-size ballads with massive synths and trunk-rattling drums. "We deliberately tried to embrace new instruments and techniques, using elements from dance and hip-hop and bringing them into our world," says the drummer. Elsewhere, guitarist Jonny Buckland steps up, playing nimble runs on "Hurts Like Heaven" and wailing on "Major Minus." "He's become the guitarist that we always knew was in there," says Champion. "Chris [Martin] wrote a fantastic song called 'Up in Flames,' but then Jonny added a gorgeous riff, and now it's one of my favorite songs we've ever done. It kills me." The album has a loose concept about art in troubled times, but who the hell is Mylo Xyloto? "He could be the protagonist – but it's deliberately ambiguous. It forces you to use your imagination."
By Austin Scaggs