Thursday, May 21, 2009

(Free) Album Review: "LeftRightLeftRightLeft" by Coldplay

To thank their fans, Coldplay is giving their latest album away to everyone who attends a show on their latest tour, and to everyone else through their website. It's a live album, taken from shows on the Viva La Vida tour. The title of the album is LeftRightLeftRightLeft, which goes nicely with their latest French/revolutionary image.

I downloaded the .zip file of songs without any problem, and I've listened to the album a couple times now. I think it's good, but not great.

There are two kinds of live albums: live albums that show the artist putting a creative stamp on their studio material, whether through improvisation or new arrangements; and live albums that sound pretty much like the studio recordings with the addition of crowd noises and grittier instruments. This live album is the latter, but don't let that discourage you.

With a few exceptions, most of these songs sound just like you'd expect them to. I think that is perhaps an indication of Coldplay's talent. If they can make songs sound consistent during a live show, they obviously know what they're doing. I do, however, wonder how many things were pre-recorded. It's hard to tell when you can only hear the music and not see it being made.

The nine songs here lean heavily toward material from Coldplay's latest album Viva La Vida. There is one song from their recent E.P., "Glass Of Water," and a not-commercially-released song called "Death Will Never Conquer." That one is sung by drummer Will Champion. I didn't much like it when they released it through their website, but this version is fun, if short. It reminds me of a pub sing-along. Fan favorites "Fix You" and "Clocks" make appearances too.

By far, the best thing on this album is the pared-down version of "The Hardest Part," coupled with piano instrumental "Postcards From Far Away." The vocals are in the spotlight here, and they're beautiful. If you didn't like "The Hardest Part," from third album X&Y, take a listen to this version.

Although most of the songs might sound overly familiar to fans who own the studio albums, there is something that makes them a bit different: the energy level. The crowd noises, the clapping, the singing along, the cheering - it all creates an infectious magic. That's one thing live albums have to offer that studio albums do not. You really feel like you're there among the other fans, and that makes this album worth the download.

One thing that this live album makes apparent is the stadium-ready nature of Coldplay's songs. Songs start soft, then build, then release. You really feel the release here, much more than on the studio versions. "Death And All His Friends," the album-closer, is a good example.

If you'd like to download LeftRightLeftRightLeft, you can go to and see if it's still available. If you're reading this months after I've posted, perhaps the band still has it on their site, or maybe they're selling it in stores.

No comments: