CHRIS Martin has referred to this latest album by Coldplay as like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which, if I was J.K. Rowling, I would take as a massive insult. Because Coldplay haven’t had the best reputation over the last few years. 2008’s Viva La Vida was really great, but it’s been downhill from there, with Mylo Xyloto and Ghost Stories both being miles away from the Radiohead-esque band we’d come to love. With their mainstream appeal being stronger than ever, Coldplay seem to claw for the spotlight U2 have held for so long.
With the self-titled opener to Coldplay’s seventh release, A Head Full of Dreams, you’d think the band had been listening to U2’s Achtung, Baby, which is what probably makes it the best song on the album. There’s not much that tops it really. Indeed, the vast majority of A Head Full of Dreams feels incredibly awkward or just downright boring. Take ‘Hymn For the Weekend’, a song that features Beyoncé and screams ‘mid-life crisis’. It’s incredibly weird to hear the middle-class, 38 year old Chris Martin singing about being ‘drunk and high’. I’m not saying 38 year olds shouldn’t get drunk or high, but Martin’s vocals feel incredibly forced on what is meant to be ‘a party song’, especially compared to Beyoncé’s. ‘Hymn for the Weekend’ is obviously the kind of song Coldplay would hope to be played at a pre-drinks party or become some sort of club banger. Ironically it’s become Radio 2 fodder.
It’s followed up by ‘Everglow’, one of Coldplay’s many piano based numbers. The sudden change disrupts the flow of the album substantially, going from upbeat number to downbeat nostalgia trip. The problem with songs like this is that it feels like Coldplay condemning themselves to a stereotype. People expect Coldplay to throw a load of depressing slow numbers onto an album, and on A Head Full of Dreams they do exactly that. ‘Everglow’ doesn’t deviate from this dull piano rhythm and with a total lack of interesting vocal hook. The team-up with Tove Lo, entitled ‘Fun’ is distinctly not what its title suggests. The annoyingly nostalgic tone is coupled with drone-like ‘sing-a-long’ vocals.
‘Army of One’ is one of the more interesting tracks on the album. Falling somewhere between Bjork and Radiohead if they’d been employed by Disney, it employs some interesting and surprisingly diverse vocal loops and organ, but falls flat in its repetitiveness, and it’s second half that sounds like Chris Martin has been spending too much time with his good pal Avicii, and I don’t mean that in a good way. The lead single ‘Adventure of a Life Time’ is also not a bad track as such, but in a way feels like a watered down version of ‘Every Teardrop is a Waterfall’. In a way, this song is a metaphor for the album; still peppy, but exhausted and worn out.
But even if all of the tracks on this album were disappointing (which they are) surely they can be given some leeway when you listen to Coldplay outstanding lyrics? Well, unfortunately, these are just as bland as the music the music they cover. Whether they be needless filler in ‘Up & Up’ (‘we’re gonna get it, get it together/I know we’re gonna get it, get it together and float’), pure ridiculousness in ‘Adventure of a Lifetime’ (‘Turn your magic on!’) or just no lyrics what-so-ever (see any song where Chris Martin sings ‘ooooh, ooooh…’ to the tune).
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from this album, so A Head Full of Dreams isn’t necessarily a disappointment. It’s merely another step in the slow, tedious and dull downfall of one of the UK’s biggest bands.
Lads, for your sake and ours, let’s call it a day.
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