The new Coldplay album is here. It’s an event so momentous that it spawned a more-than-acceptable Zach Galifianakis joke. But Mylo Xyloto isn’t just a new Coldplay album; it’s a new Coldplay. A dreamier, vibier Chris Martin advancing the instrumental territory hinted at on Viva La Vida. And for the uninitiated (or more radio-centric) audience, this diversion might be something wholly new for you. But rest assured, the old, band-aping, pretty-much-cover-artists that Coldplay have always been are still around. Their influences are just a bit better hidden. So to ease the transition from “derivative” Coldplay into the age of “original” Coldplay, here are five artists doing Martin and company better than Martin and company.
1. Radiohead – King of Limbs
Woah woah woah. Wait a minute. Now Coldplay may have been blatantly aping early period Radiohead with Parachutes, but that was a long time ago. Right? Well no, not exactly. While Mylo Xyloto and King Of Limbs have hardly any sonic connection to each other, they both represent a turning point for seminal British bands: The second level building off of a vastly superior previous effort. Viva La Vida and In Rainbows were much higher water marks for Coldplay and Radiohead, respectively, and it shows that both bands sort of idle in that comfortable space on their 2011 LPs. So maybe the sonics have changed, but the mindset hasn’t.
2. Passion Pit – Manners
You know that warm, get-out-of-your-seat feeling when you hear modern Coldplay singles? Think about that for a second, then turn on “Little Secrets,” the second track from this Massachusetts indie-pop act’s first record, Manners. Getting that same feeling? Thought so. Passion Pit might be the choice for any discerning listener who’s a little sick of everybody knowing that song that’s in their head, as Passion Pit, while not totally off the radar, certainly fly at a whole lot lower altitude than the iPod-commercial highs of Coldplay.
3. Neon Indian – Era Extraña
Much has been made of Mylo Xyloto’s toe-dip into the buzzy chillwave genre, and we would be remiss if we didn’t mention one chillwave artist vastly outpacing Coldplay’s working knowledge of the genre. Texan Alan Palomo and his sophomore effort pile a big wash of post-1980s pop smarts on top of meandering vocals and programming touches. If Martin wasn’t so concerned with showing up his wife in the vocal department, Mylo might have been even closer to a Era Extraña cover album.
4. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
In case you were wondering, Coldplay write pop songs. They may be inflected with subtler influences, but make no mistake: they are sugary gems meant to be enjoyed in three-minute, 30-second pieces. But the longtime Franco-indie pop act Phoenix do Coldplay one better with an adventurous set of genre-expanding pop, all the while keep that worm securely in your ear. “1901.” That’s all that needs to be said.
5. M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
Coldplay have always been about embracing youth, with all the trappings of naïve love and affection that go with it. So why not embrace the greatest album about being a kid? Anthony Gonzalez’s new album under the M83 moniker is a caterwauling giant of a record spanning two discs and the infinity of space. If you’re looking for big, brash choruses and giant hooks, look no further than standouts “Steve McQueen,” “Midnight City” or “OK Pal” to stand in for the saccharine nothingness of “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall.”