Thursday, November 27, 2008

Prospekt's March EP - Coldplay

Prospekt’s March EP

EMI Records.

SCQ Rating: 67%

The memory of hearing Viva La Vida might come flooding back upon first listen of this eight song cycle, most immediately because both share, at least in theory, the same lead track. Where ‘Life in Technicolour’ off that summer release was the band’s first instrumental, clocking in at two and a half minutes, here we are introduced through ‘Life in Technicolour II’, the actual song from which that former snippet was taken. As discussed by Martin two months back, such is the purpose of Prospekt’s March EP; an appendix to flesh out the full scope of the Viva La Vida sessions and reveal songs that were excluded not because they were inferior, but because they didn’t fit in.

Timing would indicate otherwise, as this EP’s late November release (not to mention new black-clad, deluxe edition) suggests holiday season cash-grab. However before anyone launches into a rich-rockstar tirade, they should listen to ‘Glass of Water’, a tour-de-force guitar anthem (well, as far as Coldplay are capable of) that begs the reconsideration of Viva La Vida’s final tracklist. Or the cut-up, flamenco rhythms of ‘Rainy Day’, which create a pseudo-dance song and give credence to Martin’s claim the album would be inspired by traditional Spanish music. If anything since Parachutes has left you twitching in the fetal position, test out the radiant ‘Prospekt March/Poppy Fields’ or the acoustic ‘Now My Feet Won’t Touch the Ground’; both of which are subtle (but still glossy) glances back at comparatively folky beginnings.

That said, the rest of this is certainly cash-in, superfan-only fodder: a virtually unchanged, single-edit of ‘Lovers in Japan’, a pretty forty-eight second piano ditty, and most obnoxiously, the Jay-Z “remix” of ‘Lost!’, which is identical to the original besides an extended instrumental section for Jay-Z to spit on. One interesting surprise is how flexible ‘Lost!’ is by nature, and how its determined beat fits perfectly to MCing. The opportunity for an unlikely crossover success is smeared, unfortunately, by Jay-Z’s inability to say anything of interest (… so that's how he and Martin became friends!). Referencing the usual dead rap artists and comparing them to Jesus is common hip-hop jingoism, I know, but can you blame me for hoping this would be an actual by-definition remix, with perhaps some exchange between the two vocalists? I mean, if you’re carrying through with the awful idea of bundling a rap MC in with the king of schmaltz-rock, well... shit, at least try to bend our low expectations.

For those who found great things in Viva La Vida (and you really didn’t have to look that far), Prospekt’s March EP is a must-buy. The new material adequately fills any shadows left by its full-length, and more stirring are the few tracks that surpass their usual boundaries, giving a question mark to whatever direction Coldplay take next. Of course, according to Chris Martin last week in an interview picked up by every bored, post-election news-rag, he’s planning to drop Coldplay by the end of 2009 because he’ll be 33 years old. So maybe this uncertain direction will be their destination. In completely unrelated news, SCQ is betting every dollar owned that Martin will be uttering headline-grabbing nonsense, while active in Coldplay, for many years to come. Any takers?

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