I have chosen to analyse the digipak for Coldplay’s fifth and most recent album – ‘Mylo Xyloto’. Below is the front album cover and the back of the album cover too.
Firstly, it is important to consider how the genre of the artist is evident through the codes and conventions used in the digipak. The album cover is fairly unconventional, in that it is more of a work of art as opposed to a cover that exposes the band’s genre through the use of costume, lighting and facial expression. This is primarily due to the fact that the band members are not present on the cover, and instead there is just a wall covered in different coloured graffiti.
However it is possible to look into iconography and how certain signs and symbols create meaning in the text (semiotics). We can use Roland Barthes’ framework to analyse the album cover for semiotics. On the back of the album there are 14 small symbols, each representing each individual track on the album. We can see that the symbols sum up the song into a small icon, hinting at the lyrics or the meaning of each track.
The colour on the digipak gives a deep insight into the genre of music inside the album, with brightneon/electric tones used in order to portray an upbeat, loud and electric genre of music.
Aside from the genre, it is vital to look at the media language used in the digipak and this includes the visual techniques that are used in the artwork. Seeing as the cover for ‘Mylo Xyloto’ is artistic and conceptual, camera techniques such as the rule of thirds, angle and framing are very hard to analyse, but it is possible to examine the texture, colour, tone and special effects used.
The texture of the background that the graffiti is sprayed onto is smooth and urban, reflecting the slower, calmer tracks in the album that are more stripped back and acoustic (such as Up in Flames). However, the colours and tones used for the graffiti and paint are bright and neon-like, which contrasts to their other album covers (Viva La Vida, X&Y, A Rush of Cold Blood to the Head and Parachutes) which are very naturalistic and organic in tones. The artwork/covers for these albums are shown below.
The text for the album name 'Mylo Xyloto' is very bold and rounded, and is simply an outline of each letter. The text is in white which stands out from the colourful, chaotic background and could be seen to represent simplicity in a world of chaos.
There is meaning behind these visual techniques, and Chris Martin believes that ‘Graffiti often has its critics, but it changes something that’s really drab and oppressive into something else… That’s the idea of the record too, is to be trying to find colour within darkness and depression and all the terrible things in the wold. It’s trying to find the light in them, and that’s what I think a lot of graffiti does, is put a lot of light into darkness.’ From this quote we can see that the meaning of the album is to create light and colour in a world of darkness and oppression, and the visuals mirror this message too.
There is a certain amount of enigma in the album title ‘Mylo Xyloto’, and there are linguistic devices used in this. The two words are unknown to the English dictionary and were in fact coined and created by Coldplay themselves. In an interview, Chris Martin (the lead singer of the band) was questioned about the meaning behind the album name ‘Mylo Xyloto’ and why they used it for the album. He replied ‘You’ve got to have an interesting name…’ and did not explain much more of the meaning. Online forums have speculated about the meaning of ‘Mylo Xyloto’ some claiming it is to do with a graffiti artist named Mylo, and some believing that it was created to ‘just sound good’, however we will never know.
Coldplay are represented in an interesting way through the digipak artwork. The colour, paint and graffiti add to their ‘meta-narrative’ and connect the audience to the stars. The band’s meta-narrative portrays them as loud, vibrant, colourful, unique, authentic, interesting, and bright and reinforces their stardom. This helps to sell their product because the audience feel happy and excited when they see the colour and urban feel of the artwork and therefore somehow feel connected to the meta-narrative of Coldplay.
The fact that the Coldplay have adopted the urban aesthetic for the album and have chosen to use graffiti as a symbol reveals a great deal about the target audience and the demographic that they are aiming the album at. It suggests that they are targeting ‘Mylo Xyloto’ at teenagers and people of a younger age (young adults too), and this is reflected in the electric-indie/alternative genre that the band has created. The electric samples, synths and riffs or chords used throughout the tracks in the album are evident in the digipak and the cover appeals to the younger audience members which increases sales. It is vital for the record label and institution to get this correct in order to maximise overall profits of the album.