Wednesday, July 23, 2008

and here we... go.

OK so here I am. I was planning to do posts on this about once a week this summer, but as you can see that hasn't happened.  Life interferes yet again with my plans.

But anyway I have one long overdue review and another not-so-overdue review for you to digest. Hope you like them / take into consideration my thoughts / or something .

Viva La Vida • Coldplay

I'm sure you've all heard it by now - especially considering it's been one of the top 5 bestselling US albums since its release. 

To be honest, I haven't been a very big Coldplay fan for a while now. I'm always somewhat wary about mentioning this, because I don't want to be lumped in the same category as the indie-poser-elitist types who automatically hate Coldplay because they're so popular. I have no problems with coldplay's popularity, I just tired of them several years ago and haven't come back to them since.

But Viva La Vida is decidedly different. It's obvious that Coldplay tired of their formulaic approach to music making and decided to mix things up a bit. This album is full of new sounds that, frankly, are quite unexpected from these four boys.

One of the instances in which this is most evident is the first track. "Life in Technicolor" boldly proclaims 'we have a new producer.' Brian Eno is great, and his influence is welcome. The underlying beat of this track simply screams of his touch.

Joining him is the producer from Arcade Fire's "Neon Bible", whose name is Markus Dravs.

The following track, "Cemeteries of London", is one of the best on the album. It's darker than Coldplay's older music, and serves as a perfect introduction to their new feel.  "Lost!" and "42" are mostly harmless, but they don't do anything new. They're tolerable enough that they belong on the album, but not good enough to belong next to "Cemeteries" or "Lovers". "Lovers in Japan" is my favorite song from the album. It's got a distinct U2 sound, and it doesn't overstay its welcome. Unfortunately, directly following it is the album's worst misstep. On the very same track as "Lovers in Japan" is an incredibly bland three minute piano disaster. "Reign of Love" completely disrupts the flow of the album. "Yes" is somewhat gimmicky, employing what sounds like the violinist from Fiddler on the Roof for its main theme. You've all heard "Viva La Vida", but it's very good - the lyrics are almost enjoyable, and the church bell adds an enormous amount to its catchy beat. "Violet Hill" is also good. To be perfectly honest, I think this track would have been a much better opener than "Life in Technicolor". It perfectly exemplifies Coldplay's new tone. "Strawberry Swing" takes a break from the gloom of the prior three songs with a relaxed beat and leisurely vocals. "Death and All His Friends" brings back a bit of the anthemic Coldplay that everybody knows, and the album ends with a reprise of "Life in Technicolor."

All in all, it's a solid album. However, I feel that Coldplay is still playing it safe. They're wary of trying anything too out of the ordinary. This likely comes from wanting to keep their enormous fanbase. Chris Martin's lyrics are still horrendously dull, and even embarrassing at times. This problem pervades the entire album, to a certain extent. "Viva La Vida" is promising, and it bodes well for the band's future, but if they do not keep striving for originality then they will become irrelevent. The next album will likely skyrocket Coldplay to even more fame, or completely destroy their reputation.

6.8 / 10

The Dark Knight • Christopher Nolan.

This isn't exactly going to be a full review, but I have to implore you all to see it while it's still in theaters. Of course, considering its popularity it'll be in theaters for quite a long time, but you really shouldn't miss this.

Christopher Nolan has proven that he is capable of making a film that can speak on several different levels. Whether you buy a ticket for the action, for the philosophical musings, or for the performance of the actors, it's extremely unlikely that you'll be disappointed.

The cinematography is excellent, and the writing is excellent. The direction is incredible. The soundtrack is much better than the first movie, and fits very well with the film. The acting is very good on all accounts - but especially with Heath Ledger, who played The Joker. This role easily ranks among the best performances I've ever seen on film.

This movie isn't perfect, but it might come as close to a perfect rating as is possible for a batman movie.

9 / 10