One of the endearing quirks of Coldplay is that, despite their slow march to worldwide rock stardom over the past decade, they've remained self-deprecating and firmly focused on writing expansive pop songs without falling into the trap of trying to become "important."
But in the sessions for their fifth album, the follow-up to the smash 2008 hit Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, singer Chris Martin and his band are finally taking the dreaded "CA" plunge — as in "concept album."
"It's from the point of view of two people who are a bit lost," Martin told BBC News about the Brian Eno-produced disc. "Two like-minded outsiders who meet in a very difficult environment and therefore have a journey together."
After exploring the high-minded issues of love and war on the Grammy-winning Viva la Vida, Martin promised that the new disc will be more intimate and more worldly. "It's a concept album, but it's supposed to be very personal within a big framework. Does that make sense?" he said.
Working again with Eno (David Bowie, U2), Martin said the band is leaning on the producer and Roxy Music co-founder to once more push them to explode their sound. "Brian is the sower of seeds and ideas and experimenting, which is very liberating. Then [collaborator] Marcus [Dravs]' job is to come in after all that's been done and try and sculpt it into some kind of releasable format."
They've been working on the album for more than a year, during sessions that the BBC described as "chaotic," which left Coldplay with a number of half-formed and half-completed tracks. Martin said the group spent a year "making a lot of noise" that now needs to be sorted out and formed into actual songs.
There's no release date scheduled for the yet-untitled disc, but fans will get a brief glimpse at Coldplay later this month when they play a pair of sold-out gigs for the U.K. homeless charity Crisis.
"I think it will be good for us to get our gig feet on for a couple of days because sometimes you can get very institutionalized in the studio," Martin said. "There's a danger that you forget that you're going to have to play this for people and that's when music can become a little bit silly."
They've also released the Yuletide single "Christmas Lights" to tide their fans over. The plaintive piano ballad about a holiday lover's spat is accompanied by a whimsical performance video set on a colorful stage in the middle of a twinkling sea of lights.
Are you excited for Coldplay to get conceptual on their upcoming album? Let us know in the comments!