Coldplay are back with Mylo Xyloto, the follow-up to their much-praised fourth record Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends.
Whilst this reviewer will be the first to admit to not being a big Coldplay fan, this album is undeniably smooth, catchy and near-impossible to dislike.
Following on from Viva la Vida would have proven a great challenge, but it's one the band have overcome by avoiding making a similar record.
The underlying atmosphere bares similarities, and it's unlikely that this record will convert any sceptics in the way Coldplay's previous record did.
'Hurts Like Heaven' (after the title track provides a brief instrumental introduction) kicks off the record properly in an upbeat way, dispelling any pre-determined criticsms usually sent Coldplay's way (more often than not, they can feel boring and tired).
From here, songs like 'Paradise' tread familiar, mid-tempo territory without offering a great deal of substance.
However, acoustic-driven moments like 'Us Against The World' give their music a more atmospheric feel, and this song highlights the talent of the band.
Chris Martin has his share of critics, but his vocals are solid-to-great here, working well with the stripped-down nature of the track.
It's on these tender moments (like 'The Scientist' from A Rush of Blood To The Head') that Coldplay sound at their best, when they avoid falling into power-pop ballad cliches.
The second half of the record sees a brief peak in quality, with 'U.F.O.' excelling in the same way 'Green Eyes' did on their second record.
Similarly, 'Up In Flames' is a brief, beautiful and sadly rare case of Coldplay making a truly great ballad.
The album does wander in the realms of over-production at times ('Up With The Birds' and 'Princess of China'), and here it stalls a little.
However, beneath this production are some great songs, proving that Chris Martin and Coldplay deserve at least some of the success they've had.
Mylo Xyloto is littered with great tracks, when the band expose themself in a bare environment, rather than become muddied with unnecessary cliches.
It won't stand up as a progression from Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (still the band's defining work), but it provides a nice continuation of their career with a record that remains solid, albeit a little inconsistent.
Female First - Alistair McGeorge