Coldplay’s fourth release has been billed as their experimental record, as well as their political record. And it is both, relatively speaking. Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends opens with an anthemic riff played not on guitar but on a Persian santur — a hammered dulcimer common to the traditional music of Iraq and Iran. The album’s lead single, “Violet Hill,” describes a scene in which “priests clutched onto Bibles/Hollowed out to fit their rifles.” Half the album’s tracks float images of war, while others evoke God, religion or death. ROLLINGSTONE.COM
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