Back in 2008, Coldplay was riding the success train after releasing their fourth studio album, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends. The album saw a marked change in Coldplay’s musical direction- the twinkly piano ballads and emotive vocals were replaced by more digitized sounds; several of the tracks on the album boasted synthesizers, electric guitar and even electric violin. The change worked well for the band, and all of their fans were excitedly waiting to see where they’d go next.
The wait wasn’t very long, as just five months later, the band released an EP titled Prospekt’s March– a collection of B-sides that didn’t make it onto Viva la Vida. With only eight songs, and a 28 minute runtime, you’d assume that Prospekt’s March is a bit of an unnecessary EP, but the surprising thing is that it’s actually a really great release.
The disc kicks off with Life in Technicolor ii. If you’ve heard the Viva la Vida album, the opening chords of this song probably sound pretty familiar- this theme was used in both the opening and closing tracks of the album. However, this version of the song adds lyrics to the instrumental piece, and is extended to a full-length song. Though the instrumentation (namely the Chinese Yangqin and tabla that are played throughout) is still the best part of the song, it’s also nice to finally hear some lyrics to accompany the music, and Chris Martin sounds convincing as he sings the refrain (“Oh love don’t let me go/Won’t you take me where the streetlights glow/I could hear it coming/I could hear the sirens sound/Now my feet won’t touch the ground”).
A short interlude appears with Postcards From Far Away. I repeat my hatred for interludes in nearly every review I do for an album that has one, but I have to say- this interlude is done quite well. The quiet piano piece is absolutely lovely and perfectly sets a dreamy, far away mood; everytime I hear this track, it transports me to a cafe in Italy, where I’m sitting at a table, drinking coffee and writing a postcard to a friend as I stare out the window and watch the rain fall outside. Seeing as how I’ve never even been to Italy, I’d say that the music has definitely painted this beautiful picture on its own, which is quite impressive.
Glass of Water follows, and is an upbeat guitar-driven track. The music here actually sounds like some of the stuff on Coldplay’s most recent album, Mylo Xyloto, particularly during the chorus, where the instrumentation picks up with drums and heavier strumming. The lyrics are nice (“Son, dont ask/Neither how full nor empty is your glass/Cling to the mast/Spend your whole life living in the past/Going nowhere fast”), but the song has never really stuck with me. Despite the rock-anthem sound in the chorus, the verses are a bit too subdued for the track to be a standout.
However, one of my favourite Coldplay songs appears next with Rainy Day. I enjoy the warbled sound effect used over Martin’s vocals in the verses, and the sparkling synth that plays throughout. The chorus picks up with a lovely string section (oh, that cello!) and the chorus is one of the catchiest ones on the EP (“Oh rainy day come around/Sometimes I just want it to slow down/And we’re separated now/And oh but I love when you come over to the house/I love it when you come over to my house”). The happy, almost sunny feeling of this track is a perfect contrast to the song’s title, and I always find myself listening to this when I’m embracing rainy weather.
The title track appears next, in a quietly assuming ballad. I love this song. The understated melody gives way to the reflective lyrics (“Don’t you wish that life can be as simple/As fish swimming round in a barrel?/When you’ve got the gun”), and Martin’s vocals are similarly impressive; his tone is warm and inviting during the choruses, and he shows off a nice falsetto during the bridge as well. It’s easy to forget about Coldplay’s ballads when you think of some of their more fast-paced, exciting songs, but they are definitely good at writing a pretty ballad and this is certainly one of them.
One of my favourite songs on Viva la Vida was Lost!, and I was excited to see another version of it here, this time called Lost+. I’ll admit that the song is actually the same exact one as the album version, with the exception being that Jay-Z offers up a raps after the second chorus. Jay’s raps are always hit-or-miss for me; I love listening to his smooth voice, but sometimes his rhymes are pretty weak. That’s sort of the case here- his rap has very little to do with the original song’s lyrical content. Honestly, this track is a bit unnecessary- we already have this same version of Lost! on Viva la Vida, and I could’ve done without Jay Z’s collaboration, but oh well. There’s a reason why some of these songs didn’t make the actual album.
Speaking of unnecessary songs, there’s a useless remix of another song from Viva la Vida, Lovers in Japan. The Osaka Sun remix sounds remarkably similar to the original, except I think this version is sped up a little. I wasn’t a big fan of the original version, and I do think this remix is a bit superfluous, so I tend to skip it altogether.
The EP comes to an end with Now My Feet Won’t Touch The Ground, an acoustic-guitar based ballad. The song has a sort of country, western sound to it (think of “Til Kingdom Come” from the X&Yalbum) and the folk sound works surprisingly well. It is nice to hear a song completely stripped off all the extraneous orchestration and synthesizers, returning to the more traditional, organic feeling that we first heard from the band’s debut album.
Usually, I think of EPs as something for only serious fans of a band to purchase, but Prospekt’s March is a pretty good release, in general. You don’t have to be a super-fan of Coldplay to enjoy this disc- it’s a great collection of songs, and even the “worse” of the lot are still fairly enjoyable.
1. Life in Technicolor II
2. Postcards from Far Away
3. Glass of Water (interlude)
4. Rainy Day
5. Prospekt’s March/Poppyfields
6. Lost + (feat. Jay-Z)
7. Lovers in Japan (Osaka Sun mix)
8. Now My Feet Won’t Touch the Ground