The lyrics are no less rhyming-dictionary than Chris Martin’s worst un-excesses, but Fixers just seem to have better source material. Yeah, generally it’s The Beach Boys. “Waikiki” sounds a bit Beach Boys.
Only kidding. Absolutely everything about this sounds like The Beach Boys except for the bits that sound like Animal Collective trying to sound like The Beach Boys. All this is catnip to me. But it’s only at 13 because sometimes – particularly when I’m playing along on my air piano, like I did here – a dark thought will rear up that ‘Iron Deer Dream’ could be a good Scouting For Girls song. I know that’s a concept beyond natural brain patterns, but there it is. It’s out there.
With no such listening parameters or prejudices, Junior says she likes it. She likes “the noise”. We agree it’s quite dense, the inevitable result of splurging all your best choruses on one song.
As the planet’s leading Coldplay apologist, I feel compelled to defend ‘Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall’ against the harsh barbs hurled in its path. Yes, it’s ‘Delta Sun Bottleneck Stomp’ by way of Big Country by way of – what? – Bizarre Inc? Yes, Chris Martin’s whipped his rhyming dictionary out again, now thumbed to a cinder. Yes, its rave riff is a now-allegedly-customary lift. But come on, it’s credited. Now. What matters, to me at least, is its life-affirming kinetic drive, its splurge of non-specific euphoria and determination to grasp that pop nettle again and finally consign the blubs of X&Y to history’s disgrace.
But even I don’t go as far as Junior, who insists it’s “brilliant”. It also “sounds like bagpipes”. When Stuart Adamson was wringing those kinds of sonics out of his guitar, we were pretty impressed. In an aghast sort of way.
Back to December, I now believe it is brilliant and Junior says, “I’ve heard it too many times”.
When the Pet Shop Boys covered this in their Pandemonium show – Neil Tennant in crown and gown, natch – it fostered the biggest singalong of the night. I’d swear, somewhat insultingly (for whoever), half the audience assumed the song was Tennant and Lowe’s – and wised up too late. Otherwise, I’m not sure there’s a natural overlap between the bands, but the point for me is ‘Viva La Vida’ has fast become an anthem and, I’ll wager, the Noughties hit that will last. At least in the sort of Absolute Radio pantheon that will forever rate Bohemian Rhapsody and Stairway To Heaven the standout peaks of our popular culture.
Obviously I think this is a great record, and while much of that is down to its immediacy and bursting pride, there’s also the question of its surprising birth. After all, X&Y had pretty much clawhammered the joy out of the soul of anyone who listened. It was a flatulent album, stretching its reserves of hot air over a dozen lifeless rhyming-dictionary clods of half-songs. They barely deserved their Brian Eno moment. However, he turned up anyway and has to take a hefty slice of credit for the alert Coldplay that emerged. But credit to Martin and co for actually bothering their arses this time.
Like Doctor Who, this is a family favourite. Actually, Doctor Who’s too scary for Junior. Let’s call this a mainstay of our automobile glee club.
Junior says: “WOAH-OH-OHH-OH-OHHH-OHHH. That’s the best bit.” And probably the only bit not pilfered from Joe Satriani, Cat Stevens, ‘Papa Don’t Preach’… – ah, we’re all the sum of our influences, aren’t we? Whatever cobbles this together, it gets Junior smiling every time. Maybe she’s got some publishing rights too.
As the opening strings stab, Junior vouches, “It’s my song,” which just about crowns a vexing couple of weeks for Chris Martin. That’s Junior and Joe Satriani on his tail. Joe’s beef is that the melody of the verse borrows a widdly guitar part of his, and while you can’t deny the similarities it’s tough to call it a steal. At any rate, ‘Viva La Vida’’s strength is a pulsating string sound and a chorus you can shine your shoes with.
After the complacent, sloppy muck of X&Y, I wasn’t expecting great things of Coldplay, and Viva La Vida’s lead single ‘Violet Hill’ wasn’t exactly a curveball – but, once you got past the throwback mis-step of ‘Cemeteries Of London’, the album turned out to be a real gem. There’s a switch halfway through fourth track ‘42’ where the band relaxes, tries on some new threads for size and bangs out beauties to the end. It’s tempting to call it the work of Brian Eno and, even if his hand was only a guiding one, he can take some credit that the album is succinct, moving, interesting and brave – in relative terms, at least. The title track is its beating heart (albeit a heartbeat after some mild exercise), a stirring tale of a great leader fallen and shamed. Neil reckons it’s about Tony Blair.
Junior is “woah-oh-OH-OH-oh”ing within a bar or two, pre-empting the chant before the final chorus. Perhaps it was at the start in her first draft.