Coldplay, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends
Official Release Date: June 17
The Verdict: According to reports, the continued existence of EMI depends in large part on whether Viva la Vida's sales meet expectations, so it's doubtful they're going to be very happy about its surprise Internet release yesterday afternoon. It's also probably unlikely that they're thrilled about Coldplay making a dark (for Coldplay) record with few obvious choruses and even fewer potential singles, but it's actually perfectly fine with us. To our surprise, we liked "Violet Hill" and "Viva la Vida," and, on a first listen, "Yes," "Lost!," "42," and "Death and All His Friends" aren't bad either. Chris Martin's clearly been listening to lots of Neon Bible, but Brian Eno's typically interesting production keeps things from sounding overblown or heavy-handed. Also, none of the lyrics sound cribbed from a ninth-grade earth-science textbook this time. Obviously this is doomed to fail commercially.