You sort of have to feel sorry for Chris Martin and co. Over the years Coldplay have become the band everybody loves to hate. The fact that year on year they keep bringing out new music in the face of it all is admirable really. It’s as if the band don’t really care what people think, they still have their loyal fans.
But maybe they should start caring more. Maybe if they considered criticism they would actually improve. Instead, Martin has a head full of dreams and a reality that will send you to sleep.
It’s all too easily to listen to this latest album for hours on end and have not a single song, chorus, melody, chord or note strike you in any way whatsoever. ‘A Head Full Of Dreams’ is utterly generic, inessential and vapid. It’s as if Martin locked himself in a room, painted it beige, watched it dry and then wrote an album about it.
But let’s dig a little deeper. This is the second album released after the “conscious uncoupling” of Martin and ex-wife Gwyneth Paltrow, the first being last year’s ‘Ghost Stories’ – an interesting but poorly executed diversion into electronic music. ‘A Head Full Of Dreams’ continues that trajectory away from indie-rock and further into pop, with production from Stargate that sees the band generally returning to a livelier tempo. The opening title track is all glittery synths and a disco bassline that devolves into an obligatory “oooooh aaaahhh” ending that Coldplay do oh so well – what’s meant to represent wordless wonder simply epitomises the lack of creativity in their music. Take lead single Adventure Of A Lifetime: has anyone else noticed it’s lacking a chorus? In fact you’d be hard-pressed to find a memorable hook across the album’s eleven tracks. The sound might be dreamy, but snap out of it and all is forgotten.
The most memorable track is arguably the bizarrely spoken word Kaleidoscope, as if the voice of God is preaching to us. He could’ve at least warned us not to listen to this drivel. Admittedly Everglow is a pleasant enough ditty, though it showcases Martin’s whiny vocals and sounds like it was written in less than five minutes. Army of One is perhaps the most interesting track of all, transitioning from celestial organ to a menacing trap beat. Wait, Chris Martin singing over a trap beat? It’s as grating as it sounds (“you make my heart go boom ba boom boom”).
There are even features from Beyoncé on Hymn For The Weekend and Sweden’s Tove Lo on Fun. Yet when even they fail to inject some pop credibility, you know your album has disaster all over it. You’d think Beyoncé would’ve learnt her lesson after that dreadful Naughty Boy track, but apparently she’s happy to slap her name on anything these days.
Of course, Coldplay have such a loyal following that none of this even matters. It doesn’t even matter that the album wasn’t allowed on Spotify for its first week of release. It will sell to the masses regardless. And so we must go on suffering. A head full of dreams? This generically bland torture is the stuff of dystopian nightmares.
* A Head Full Of Dreams
* Army of One