Album Review: Coldplay - A Head Full Of Dreams
A month later theSprout's entertainment correspondent, JWH98, looks back to review the album and determine whether this latest release from the British superstar rockers is still worth buying in early 2016.
So, what do I think of Coldplay's newest album?
Well, it unquestionably draws influences from Mylo Xyloto, without any doubt.
It is just as electronically based as 2011's bestseller, as well as parts of Ghost Stories (released in May 2014) having been produced by both the Scandinavian duo Stargate and the band's stalwart collaborator, Rik Simpson.
A Head Full Of Dreams does include collaborations between the band (primarily Chris Martin) and three other talented musicians, R&B superstar Beyonce on Hymn For The Weekend, Scandinavian starlet Tove Lo on Fun and Mancunian heavyweight rock star Noel Gallagher on Up & Up. There's also the current US President, Barack Obama, singing the chorus of hymn Amazing Grace at the funeral of Reverend Clementa Pinckney, a black state Senator fatally shot during the Charleston church shootings in South Carolina, allegedly by Dylann Roof, a young white supremacist.
Unsurprisingly, I have already grown fond of the album a mere month after its worldwide release. There isn't a single outstandingly disappointing track to be found within it, although some are more notable and heartfelt than others in my opinion.
To start off, then, the opening self-titled track is an utter triumph of shimmering beats and catchy guitar riffs that kick off the album's journey with aplomb; it could easily have been written and recorded specifically for Mylo Xyloto, as its verse and chorus display a clear zest and the tune itself is very memorable. Birds, the album's second track, is more forthright yet relaxing to listen to than its predecessor so it would have been a perfect match for Ghost Stories - this song has recently been announced as the third single from A Head Full Of Dreams.
Then comes the infectious duet between Chris Martin and Beyonce, Hymn For The Weekend, which mixes quintessential drum machine clap beats with an electric piano layer. Perhaps the most thoughtful, contemplative song of the album follows; the enigmatically named Everglow contains lyrics such as "Life's as short as the falling of snow" and "I'm gonna miss you, I know..." hinting at Martin's possible perception of the human condition and his publicised separation from actress wife Gwyneth Paltrow that he might be regretting at present. The melody harks back to their X&Y era, as it's noticeably reminiscent of the equally emotionally charged hit Fix You from that acclaimed album.
What is definitely the most euphoric song out of the entire 11 strong track list, Adventure Of A Lifetime, forms the album's fifth track. Unsurprisingly it was released in early November as the lead single to promote the incoming album. Apart from Hymn For The Weekend, it is undoubtedly the album's most pop-influenced tune and both its chorus and verses are contagiously catchy! When you've listened to it just once, its lyrics about seizing and enjoying this life to the maximum are guaranteed to stick in your head for a while.
The breezy pop duet Fun, featuring 28-year-old Swedish sensation Tove Lo alongside Chris Martin on vocals, is certainly a good addition. The album's only somewhat incomprehensible track is Kaleidoscope containing soundbites from the aforementioned funeral of Reverend Pinckney, including Obama joining in with the chorus of Amazing Grace. Although touching, I'm still unsure why it precedes the electronic, danceable Army Of One/X Marks The Spot. Stuttering loops of Martin's voice saying "do, we do...?" and "alright" are prevalent throughout the first half of this song, and luckily for diehard Coldplay fans (such as myself) the chorus is exceedingly melodic and would be comfortably compatible with Mylo Xyloto, without question.
There is a rather brief track hidden within Army Of One titled X Marks The Spot; heavily produced by Stargate and with seemingly no other band members contributing to its production with the obvious exception of Martin, this is potentially my favourite tune on the album. Sleekly modern with colossal beats, synth layers and more samples of Martin's voice (this time an auto-tuned version of him singing "So I race for it..."), X Marks The Spot is a true gem of Coldplay's recently contemporary and likeable style.
Amazing Day is more laid back than the track before it, which I've just analysed. Despite its chorus fitting the bill in terms of classic Coldplay sing-alongs, this is one of the album's weaker, less outstanding songs to give my honest opinion. Nevertheless, it will surely be integrated into the band's upcoming world tour supporting the album and is almost guaranteed to be popular during concerts on a global scale. Penultimate inclusion Colour Spectrum is an instrumental track with excerpts from some of AHFOD's previous songs, primarily Hymn For The Weekend and Adventure Of A Lifetime.
It's an ideal precursor for the album's closer, the aptly named Up & Up featuring middle-aged rock titan Noel Gallagher of Oasis and High Flying Birds fame. His contribution to this six-minute gospel-like, upbeat curtain-drawer (with a chorus reminding us of when times are tough, we all have the ability to endure them and reappear on the other side brimming with positivity - "We're gonna get it together and float, up and up...") is evident during the guitar solo placed towards the song's climax. Up & Up is indeed a fitting ending to what is, in my eyes, a well-produced and excellent seventh effort from Coldplay: I sincerely hope this won't turn out to be their swan song!
Rating: 4½ stars out of 5 (****½)
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Related Article: A Brief History of Coldplay by JWH98