Those two words sum up how I feel about Coldplay’s new album, A Head Full of Dreams, released today. What do I mean by that? Well I firmly believe that this album is exactly the combination Coldplay wanted to make after the release of their last two albums. Taking the highest highs they’ve ever written on 2011’s Mylo Xyloto and merging them with the lowest lows they’ve ever written on last year’s Ghost Stories, the band has created what naturally comes from greatest joys and sorrows of the human experience: life.
Coldplay has always inherently understood how we as people adapt how we react to the external world by our internal feelings at any given moment. I’ve always admired how Coldplay constantly changes their aesthetic as a band with every album starting from A Rush of Blood to the Head. I believe this is a reflection of how we as people change our actions and behavior when we encounter different challenges and triumphs in life. This aesthetic idea comes to a head in the new album. Right from the album cover, you can see it’s covered with every color and different scenes of nature. It’s encapsulating the human experience in one piece of art. The band’s outfits in photos now are normal clothes spattered with paint; I think representing the flavors of the day to day that hit us and shape us.
So it’s safe to assume I admire what they did with the tone and idea behind the album. But how’s the execution?
Overall, I think A Head Full of Dreams could definitely have been much better than it is. It’s an album with moments of greatness and incredibly emotional songwriting and massive hooks. It’s also an album with some lazy songs that didn’t catch me at all melodically or lyrically. However, keep in mind that I thought their last album was a masterpiece, and I still think so, so I kind of had high expectations coming in. The first two tracks didn’t grab me whatsoever, and that worried me a bit. There wasn’t anything particularly memorable about them. Then we hit track 3, “Hymn for the Weekend.” This is a solid track, and I always like to see Coldplay push their own boundaries and not be content with repetition. The chorus is anthemic and the jangly piano that backs the song sounds great. I should say that I’m not a Beyonce fan by any means, but she does a good job lending her talents here backing Chris Martin.
“Everglow” is the best song on the album. It’s Coldplay saying, “hey, we haven’t forgotten who we are and how we started.” They got started on love and lost love ballads, and this is up there with the best of them. It’s heartbreaking and a ballsy move from Chris Martin to have ex-wife Gwyneth Paltrow back him on this track, and the lyrics and Martin’s voice cut to the bone. But part of growing and life is accepting and clinging to the happy times from a past love. You don’t forget them, and they shape you. This is a five star track for sure.
I hated “Adventure of a Lifetime” the first few times I heard it. Again, probably because I was coming off of my Ghost Stories high (or low). But I have to give props to Jonny Buckland for playing such an infectious and catchy guitar riff. This is the moving on of “Everglow” and it’s the metamorphosis into a better person who’s learned to love themselves and others again. It’s about having some fun and seeing the beauty in everything. It’s not my favorite but still a good track. Speaking of fun…
“Fun” is a track that has a chorus I love and it’s made for big arenas. It’s just a big song. Tove Lo sounds phenomenal on this song, and she was an excellent choice to guest on this album and song.
Though the interlude tracks on this album are intriguing from a philosophical standpoint, there’s not much music for me to tackle there, so I’ll move on to “Army of One.” This song…this song frustrates me to no end. The first half is absolutely incredible with a lush organ and a huge melody. It was poised to be second best on the album…but the second half of the song just meanders into this weird, sparse Ellie Goulding sounding jam that I can’t make heads or tails of. If the momentum from the first half had carried over, this song would be a surefire winner. My advice is listen to the first half and see what you think of the second. You might get more out of it than me.
“Amazing Day” takes the vibrancy from Mylo Xyloto and adds it to the tempo of a song like “Always In My Head” from Ghost Stories. It’s an ethereal guitar driven track that uplifts and soothes. It’s a song to be listened to in serene, quiet moments. It’s well done, but not one of my favorites.
I know there’s a lot of buzz about “Up&Up” because Noel Gallagher plays guitar on it, but I didn’t get a whole lot out of the song. The guitar is great, but the melody didn’t really hook me and the lyrics were a bit bland. I’d say check it out to hear the guitar, and again, most people will probably get more out of it than I did.
So those are my thoughts. The album plays a bit like a rollercoaster. It’s slow in the beginning but then really picks up in quality and songwriting and emotion until a level ending.
Ups and downs.
Sounds a lot like life.