Life In Technicolor

Posted by Scott

The relevance of a band like Coldplay can be argued all day and while I can’t really say I’m a fan of everything they do, I’ve definitely enjoyed a fair amount of their releases over the years. So as you no doubt know they have a new album out called Viva La Vida and it’s sort of a hit and miss affair for me. Whatever you think of the album, you can’t deny the quality of the production, which comes courtesy of the man, the legend, Brian Eno (pictured above). Eno essentially invented ambient music and since the early 70’s he has produced an ever-growing pile of amazing records for bands like U2 and David Bowie. So I was pretty surprised to hear he was working with Coldplay for this new record, and pretty anxious to hear the results. Needless to say, I’m not finding myself in love with the album as a whole, but it has it’s moments. One, very short, moment that really stands out is the first track, Life In Technicolor. It sort of straddles the line between electronic and rock and we are momentarily spared the weight of Chris Martin’s heavy-handed lyrics. The space that’s left allows a brilliant glimpse of what a talented bunch of musicians working under the direction of a music god can create. I think there should be a law that states that any rock band releasing a new record has to tell their lead singer to shut up, just for one song, so we can hear another side of the band. It almost always works out.

The image above is a shot of Brian Eno from the cover of his 1977 solo release, Before And After Science. I didn’t post this cover because it’s repulsive. I don’t know what it is about it that doesn’t work for me, it just makes it feel like I am buying a hair metal record or some Gun’s ‘n’ Roses box set or something.

Coldplay – Life In Technicolor


Cover image courtesey of Sleevery

21 Comments Leave A Comment


Mylo says:

July 10, 2008 at 2:12 am

You are 100% right there Scott.
I don’t know if you realized, but there is a much cleaner version of that Life In Technicolour track which is after Death and all his Friends on the same track. It seems coldplay have split 2 completely different songs on the same track for some apparent reason just to mess with my head. I too am not a big coldplay fan but Brian Eno’s influence made me buy the album. And it is also fair to say that I enjoy the instrumentals of their tracks more than listenin to Mr Odd Ball.

What other sound is there out their with reference to Brian Eno?


Rikkie says:

July 10, 2008 at 2:14 am

I’m of the same opinion about them as you, Scott. I absolutely love Brian Eno’s work, and interestingly, as far as I’m aware, the opening of that track came courtesy of electronica artist Jon Hopkins, as mentioned on his blog on MySpace here:


drew kora says:

July 10, 2008 at 7:42 am

You should have just posted some Eno, instead. “Another Green World” and “Ambient: IV: Music for Airports” were pivotal albums in my musical life.


Andrew S. says:

July 10, 2008 at 7:55 am

I don’t know, while it may not be the most appropriate image for Coldplay, I think that cover was done pretty well. Personally, the only thing I don’t like is the cleverly covered nipple. It’s so awkward.


Keith says:

July 10, 2008 at 9:02 am

The paint splashes on that cover are really contrived and make it look like a poor attempt at abstract art that you might see on ebay.


Matt H says:

July 10, 2008 at 10:17 am

Can I point out that the album was actually produced Markus Dravs, Eno and Rik Simpson. Eno did not do too much within the album leaving Markus to do most of it. If you listen to Arcade Fire you will hear the similarities between the production work as he likes to use room sounds a lot.

Also Life in Technicolor is a sample from ‘Light Through the Veins’ by Jon Hopkins.

So not much/no Eno there either.

Im sure if you had read the sleeve notes of the album when you bought it, you would have known this.

I take it you did buy it? ;)


Billy Hill says:

July 10, 2008 at 10:58 am

Is it me, or has this blog just become a hub for a bunch of design snobbery? The world is full of a diverse mix of amazing creations that it seems many of you may not be open to because it doesn’t have the typefaces, techniques or overall modernist aesthetic that you seem to cling to like it’s a religion.


Scott says:

July 10, 2008 at 11:23 am

Matt H-
thanks for the info, that’s interesting. I buy most of my music from Amazon, it’s DRM free and a pretty simple process. So yeah, I don’t usually see the actual packaging. I had just read snippets here and there about the Eno thing, guess I assumed a bit too much.

become? as far as I remember my tastes and influences haven’t changed much in the year this blog has been around, I feel like the posts are about the same as they always were. I am no design snob, not at all. I just appreciate some things and don’t really appreciate others, based on my personal taste, which is what this blog is about, things I enjoy that I think others might enjoy as well. granted, my tastes have pretty significant modernist leanings, but I don’t see how that makes me, or anyone who comments on this blog a snob… I have specifically made a point to post only things I feel positively about, most of the time. but when there’s a song I want to post that happens to have a cover I don’t really like, I usually mention something about that fact.

but if you like the cover you’re free to tell us why, that’s why there are comments enabled on every post.


Billy Hill says:

July 10, 2008 at 12:09 pm


I respect you, your taste, and your thoughts. I find them very informed and usually respectful. You are as entitled to them as any of us are. However, I think that stating that another designer’s work is “repulsive” is beneath you. In my eyes, this is where the snobbishness comes into question. I don’t think it’s necessary.

You seem to have many fans that respect your work and your words. You have a unique opportunity to teach and lead by example. It’s your inherent right as a designer to be critical. But, perhaps you owe it to your readers to be a little less harsh in your critiques. Just a thought. You gotta do what’s right for you.

As for the cover; I think it is quite attractive in it’s own right. Why? Why not? I find it thematically compelling and visually attractive. The color is very nice and I have no beef with the type treatment. It’s all incredibly well executed and I feel it fits the mood of the record perfectly.


Matt H says:

July 10, 2008 at 1:23 pm

I think scott has a perfect right to call something repulsive… he doesnt have to like everything. I think its pretty shocking myself.
Fair enough Scott is a designer in his own right, but I am a musician and sound engineer, and I hate a lot of music, equally I love a lot too. :)

just my two pence worth


Billy Hill says:

July 10, 2008 at 3:12 pm

I think I’ve been misunderstood. I never meant to imply that no one has the RIGHT to find anything repulsive. I myself find all sorts of things repulsive… especially a lot of bad graphic design. I don’t, however, state that I feel it’s repulsive in a public forum. But that’s just me. Scott can do and say whatever he wants. So can you, so can I, so can anybody. My point was that I though it was in bad form. That’s all. Perhaps it’s me and my comments that are repulsive.


Chris says:

July 10, 2008 at 3:41 pm

Visually, the thing about that cover is that it looks like someone took a bucket of paint and just vandalized a classic painting of the French Revolution (which by the way is called “Liberty leading the people” by Eugene Delacroix).
Also, the painting has nothing to do with the spanish title of the album: the French Revolution was not pro-life (it wasn’t against war for example), it was for equal rights between men, nothing more.
Having said that, I think everyone has the right to say whatever they want. Having fans is no excuse for not expressing your own points of view. That’s not being snob, that’s being honest.


Forrest says:

July 10, 2008 at 3:45 pm

Scott, do you know what medium that cover is? It looks like a cyanotype, but I’m assuming it’s just a photograph that was digitally manipulated… but I always have hope for analog!

Great image regardless.


Jack says:

July 10, 2008 at 5:55 pm

I think that the cover of Viva la Vida has a porpouse of being this way. A like the way the type goes as fulish hand made in front of the paint.
It for me has a strong mening because viva la vida menas “live life” and is written in way like somebody was like saing forget about it , all the war and death in picture, and triyng to relaese him self from all of this ,and just living his life. It´s like a breaktruth a stage of life when you realize what is importat to you and just live your life …. i don´t know just an opinion e and also sorry for english mistakes … not my offical lenguage …
best regrads scoot , huge fan


Scott says:

July 10, 2008 at 10:51 pm

billy hill-
you have a valid point, perhaps it’s a bit destructive to dismiss something out of hand like that. it could very well be great design, I don’t know, I just don’t care for it. I guess I really liked the X/Y and rush of blood covers so this was a bit of a disappointment, I was hoping for something more in line with the other releases design-wise. I guess the type part just felt way too stylized to me, like too well done. conceptually, I guess it’s a bold statement, but the whole thing just feels huge, something I would think coldplay would want to avoid, and something they did a good job of avoiding with the past 2 album covers.

andy w.-
I know, coldplay, but I guess that was the point. it’s coldplay yet there’s this amazing moment on there.

not sure, do some research and we’ll put together a post.


AndresM says:

July 11, 2008 at 9:38 am

Good Post! I love when people talk shit all day about Coldplay cause that’s when you know they’re missing something from music appreciation. Just like when people talk shit about U2. I feel like people just think it’s not cool to like bands like these.
I agree with your opinion on the cover Scott. Tho I feel like the new cover is cheeeeeesssssyyy. The name Viva La Vida and the painting behind it? CHEESE.


Melanie says:

July 12, 2008 at 2:47 am

The painting used on the cover is Eugène Delacroix’s ‘Liberty Leading The People’ (La Liberté guidant le peuple, 1830). The woman holding the French flag represents Liberty (and the soon-to-be-formed French Republic) leading the people towards freedom during the French revolution. She’s today the symbol of the French Republic. This painting has a heavy significance, at least to the French people, and I guess that if you add to that the title of their album, it may explain why they choose it for their cover. Especially if you take into account that the title comes from a painting by Frida Kahlo, who’s often associated with the Mexican Revolution.

I read above that “the painting has nothing to do with the spanish title of the album” and I have to disagree as they’re both about the fight for freedom. In addition to that, having a French painting, a title in Spanish, and a British band give their whole work an international resonance, which is exactly how freedom is, or should be.

To AndresM, if I may, this is hardly cheesy. It’s about fighting for one’s freedom, and I don’t think it can be taken for granted just yet.

That being said, I was surprised by the cover too. I liked the clean look of their previous covers better.