The modern world, eh? Time was when you’d get an album, preceded and followed by a couple of singles, and that’d be that. Now, with labels desperately trying to figure out how to keep their clients’ wares afloat, you get ‘leaks’ (some deliberate, some not), streams, downloads, covermounted singles, bonus discs, download-only singles, singles, albums, special edition albums, albums and singles. ‘Prospekts March’ — billed as “an EP of eight previously unreleased tracks” — comes hot on the heels of a single release of ‘Lost!’ and will simultaneously be teamed with the album and released as ‘Viva La Vida Prospekts March Edition’. Cripes!
In truth, of the eight previously unreleased tracks, one is a not-massively-adventurous reshuffle (the Osaka Sun mix of ‘Lovers In Japan’), another a 48-second long incidental piano piece, another the version of ‘Lost!’ that features Jay-Z on autopilot (ie, still quite amazing) but is on the flip of the single. So they don’t count. The opener is ‘Life In Technicolor (ii)’, which takes ‘Viva…’’s opening almost-instrumental and adds a typically bombastic melody, plus a chorus whose words (“Now my feet won’t touch the ground!”) are reprised as the title of the stripped-down, acoustic guitar-led closing song. And in-between? Well, there’s a positively garagantuan, only slightly Eno-ified stadium filler entitled ‘Glass Of Water’, featuring such deep and meaningful musings as “Dream that you could see your future/Inside a glass of water/The ripples and the lines”; a vaguely dance-y, ever-so-vaguely funky “experimental” effort called ‘Rainy Day’; and the title track, which tries oh-so hard to be a bit, y’know, strange, before the inevitable arrival of synth strings (buoying a ‘Wish You Were Here’-aping line in the guise of, “We’re just two little figures in a soup bowl”) and the even more inevitable arrival of – you guessed it — a life-affirming™ chorus.
All of which is far more complicated than it needs to be, a hefty bout of smoke and mirrors ultimately intended to add some mystery to the Coldplay campaign and re-ignite interest in ‘Viva La Vida…’ which, at the time of going to press, is residing in the lower regions of the Top 40. Will it work? Is ‘Prospekts March’ a stroke of marketing/brand reigniting/whatever genius? Lord knows. But can someone do me a fucking favour and please figure out the best way to do all this shit, so we can get back to reviewing actual music rather than all these crazy little projects?!