The ungodly banal title track for Coldplay’s Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall EP has been out for a few weeks now, predictably vaulting to the top of the AAA radio charts, but not stoking much excitement over the band’s new music otherwise. And the EP’s other two tracks, “Major Minus” and “Moving to Mars,” don’t do much to flesh out the project. If Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends suggested that Coldplay was looking to be more adventurous with their sound, the three songs on this EP are little more than reiterations of the band’s basic template.
The only thing truly notable about “Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall” is the extent to which it’s a bald-faced rip-off of Mercury Rev’s “Delta Sun Bottleneck Stomp” rather than one of Coldplay’s usual U2 manques, not that Mercury Rev is a huge departure from the arena-pop that Coldplay’s fans have come to expect of the band. Chris Martin’s lyrics make stilted, ineffective references to grammar (“I’d rather be a comma than a full-stop”) and trapezes (“Maybe I’m in the gap between the two trapezes”), with the whole thing building to a massive chorus before ending with a fucking drum solo. It’s a pretty significant regression from standout singles like “Violet Hill” and “Lovers in Japan,” but at least it sets the tone for the remainder of the middling EP.
“Moving to Mars” kicks off with a hilarious prelude on which Martin tries to sing in a lower register, prattling on about how “Somewhere up above the stars/The wreckage of the universe floats by” with his sotto voce delivery making the song pass as an unintentional lullaby. Once the body of the song begins, the hazy atmospherics and chintzy vocoder effects distract a bit from some of Martin’s most vapid lyrics to date: “They’ll be tearing us apart/And then moving us to Mars.” It’s only the song’s poor writing that makes “Moving to Mars” sound like anything other than an outtake from A Rush of Blood to the Head.
Fortunately, “Major Minus” fares better. It’s here that Coldplay’s fascination with Arcade Fire’s sound comes to a head. With a heavily distorted electric-guitar riff as a recurring motif and an aggressive, full-steam-ahead tempo, “Major Minus” enhances the vagueness of its narrative’s details with contemporary rock flourishes. If it isn’t as progressive as the better songs on Viva La Vida, it’s at least the one song on the EP that makes it sound like the band was actually trying. Still, without any meaningful continuity with the images used or in the overall style of the three songs, there’s not much in the way of structure or thematic purpose to the Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall to justify its status as a proper precursor to Coldplay’s next full-length album.