Prospekt’s March EP

3 out of 5 stars

Coldplay is one of the most polarizing bands in the business. Matching boyish charm with hollow wit, and mature instrumentation with stadium-ready anthems and chart-topping success, there is much to love and hate about Coldplay. But for every argument against their sound or meager attempts at musical grandeur, there’s another one heralding the fair London lads as the saviors of rock music.

With 2008’s Viva La Vida, Coldplay employed famed British producer Brian Eno to give its arena-rock a more vivid and purposeful texture. As a result, the band ended up with its most eclectic — albeit inconsistent — album to date. Companion EP Prospekt’s March provides eight tracks that follow the logical progression laid out in Viva, with very similar results.

Beginning with “Life in Technicolor II,” a reworking of the instrumental Viva opener complete with lyrics and glimmering choruses, Prospekt’s March includes four new songs, a remix, a single mix of “Lovers in Japan” and a brief 48-second piano interlude titled “Postcards from Far Away.” Coldplay is at its best under the ornate string arrangements in “Rainy Day,” where a more youthful and playful Chris Martin croons, “I love it when you come over to my house.”

“Glass of Water” begins with locomotive guitars and a frantic beat courtesy of drummer Will Champion, and launches into a heavy-hitting chorus with more firepower than nearly anything in the Coldplay canon. But Martin’s shallow philosophizing is once again evident as he warns, “Son don’t ask / Neither how full nor empty is your glass.” The EP’s title track offers a more organic take on the newer Coldplay sound, with a slow crescendo of organ and strings insulating a delicate, acoustic guitar-clad Martin.

“Lost+,” a remix of Viva’s “Lost” with a verse by Jay-Z, is the odd man out on an otherwise cohesive collection of songs. Had it been a Jay-Z song from the start, with Martin only offering the chorus, it might have worked. But the rapper’s addition sounds forced and out of place, and a song about losing doesn’t seem too appropriate for someone like Jay-Z in the first place.

Expounding on the lyrical themes from “Life in Technicolor II,” album closer “Now My Feet Won’t Touch the Ground” is another one of Martin’s humble folk songs, enlisting a surprisingly modest horn section at the song’s climax that shows tasteful restraint instead of Coldplay’s usual penchant for overblown balladry.

U2 comparisons aside, Coldplay’s most consistent criticisms concern Martin’s tired lyrics. Pairing clever couplets around wide-eyed melodies, it’s a rare occasion when he actually has much to say. Lines like “Just because I’m losing / Doesn’t mean I’m lost” and “Gravity release me / And don’t ever hold me down / Now my feet won’t touch the ground” are trite and recycled without much substance behind the quips. Luckily, the musical arrangements and production flourish with Eno manning the helm, nearly drowning out all of Martin’s stale musings.

Though Prospekt’s March has redeeming qualities in its pristine production and shimmering sound, it’s more of an appendix to Viva La Vida than anything else, destined to become little more than a seasonal stocking stuffer.

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