It's taken me a while, but I've finally gotten around to downloading and listening to Coldplay's new live album. It's available for free at coldplay.com, so you really can't go wrong. Does a free album need a review? Perhaps not, but indulge me.
If you want a good indicator of just how far Coldplay has come in the past few years, listen to Live 2003 and then this. It's clearly the same band, but the material on Left Right Left Right Left is light years beyond. Coldplay has grown tighter, more sure of themselves, and even catalog material like "Clocks" and "Fix You" sound re-energized.
It's the new stuff that shines here, though. The record opens with Viva La Vida b-side "Glass of Water," a terrific song only held back by its lyrics, then slides into the multi-part "42," given a fine workout here. But it's songs like the Talking Heads-esque "Strawberry Swing" and the epic "Death and All His Friends" that burn brightest, Chris Martin and company stepping outside their comfort zone, yet sounding perfectly comfortable. The album holds together as a single piece as well, with interludes like "Postcards From Far Away" and "Death Will Never Conquer" used well.
Left Right Left Right Left is a sweet victory lap for a band that has successfully pushed itself to evolve, and a nice gift to fans. You can't beat the low, low price of free, so what are you waiting for?