Coldplay are back… and this time with ‘A Head Full Of Dreams‘; their 7th (and possibly final) studio album. Judging by their comeback single, ‘Adventure Of A Lifetime‘, Chris Martin and the lads have opened a pack of party poppers with feelgood intent, a track which is reminiscent of their 2011 single ‘Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall‘ in terms of structure and sound. In fact, if one was to compare this new offering to previous Coldplay collectives, one could certainly say that this album is very similar to their 5th LP ‘Mylo Xyloto‘. A continuation perhaps? Maybe even a slightly lazy re-structure of incomplete tracks from those sessions? However, that’s not to say that this is a bad record by any means.
The sound that the band achieved with ‘Charlie Brown‘ has actually resonated through almost every single track on this album though. There’s no denying that. Regardless, this time they’ve thrown in guest performances from none other than Beyoncé, Tove Lo and Noel Gallagher to name but a few. So, for fans who were waiting on the old guitar infused Coldplay to make a comeback, unfortunately this ain’t it.
Long gone are the days when we may have seen the raw origins of this band (see ‘Shiver‘, ‘Don’t Panic!‘, ‘The Scientist‘ as examples) take the forefront here. Highly defined and distorted guitars, a piano track whereby you can almost hear Chris Martin’s stool creek, amongst a yearning to become the biggest band in the world… are no more. In this day and age, ambient sounds, a multitude of overdubs and signs of a band moving with the times, have taken over what Coldplay were originally about. Phil Harvey (labelled as the fifth member of Coldplay) also seems to have guided the band to their last hurdle unfortunately, with lack of new ideas at hand.
‘A Head Full Of Dreams‘ does have some strong points though. Stand out tracks on the album definitely include ‘Hymn For The Weekend‘ (featuring Beyoncé), ‘Everglow‘ (featuring very subtle Gwyneth Paltrow backing vocals), and ‘Fun‘ (featuring Tove Lo)… all of which will probably be released as singles in due course. Plus, they’ll all be chart topping successes for sure.
I suppose this reviewer has been around long enough to see that musicianship within groups has taken a step back behind lyrical relevancy, over-production and of course, record labels having a say as to whether a record is “ready” or not. With no particular theme or direction in mind, Chris Martin previously quoted that the record would be something “colourful and uplifting” – but unfortunately he should have possibly considered taking the same approach as ‘Ghost Stories‘ whereby the tracks were completed (acoustically) before the band entwined their individual elements to form that LP into what it was. As a matter of fact – ‘A Head Full Of Dreams‘ makes you wonder if ‘Ghost Stories‘ is actually one of their better LP’s.
Basically, excluding the piano driven and heart-felt ‘Everglow‘, this album is actually missing some raw emotion. For Guy Berryman though, we can hear you now mate… seven albums later! Plus, in case you’re wondering where Noel Gallagher is on the album… he plays lead guitar on closing track ‘Up & Up‘.
Brendan Mc Elroy
*Here’s a really good stripped down / live version of ‘Everglow‘ which actually highlights how much production took hold of the band for this LP. As you can see – Norwegian duo Stargate (the main producers of the album) are not on stage with the band here. Ahem..
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