For much of Coldplay’s career they’ve been stuck between wanting to be the biggest band in the world and the best band in the world. They simultaneously want to be U2 and Radiohead; they try to be a really artistic and sometimes abstract band, but their greatest ability has always been just writing really good pop rock songs. To this day, their first four albums all hold up really well, and all of those ubiquitous and inescapable hits they fired out in the 2000’s are great. (“Yellow,” “Shiver,” “Clocks,” The Scientist,” “Fix You,” “In My Place,” “Viva La Vida,” etc.) The last of those four albums, 2008’s “Viva La Vida,” was Coldplay’s last ditch effort to become an acclaimed and critically adored group, as they poured all of their lofty ambitions onto that album. However, it didn’t quite get them there, unfortunately, so Chris Martin and Co. were left at a crossroads. 2011’s follow up “Mylo Xyloto” featured a similarly dense production style, but was more pandering to the pop crowd and felt much less focused, which marked either a band running thin on ideas, or a band giving up on being “great.” After the awkward (and horrible) breakup album “Ghost Stories,” this new record here is very much a continuation of the colorful and poppy “Mylo Xyloto.” However, it manages to be worse. Way worse.
“A Head Full of Dreams” does start out very well though. The album begins with some really lush, spacious, airy, and colorful synths that just sound fantastic, as they lead into an equally fantastic intro (and title) track. This song delivers on the sound “Adventure of a Lifetime” promised: fun, dance-able, and again, colorful pop music. The second song delivers as well, with another nice groove and more great melodies from Chris Martin. (That do, admittedly sound exactly like “American Girl” at one point, and a Strokes song I can’t figure out at another.) Obviously, the other great song here is the lead single, “Adventure of a Lifetime,” which just gets better with every listen. The groove is irresistible, it’s catchy, fun, and that weird little vocal sample that plays in the background is insanely addictive. It’s just a great pop song, a damn near perfect one at that. However, there are nine other songs on this album, and that’s bad news when all of them are unlistenably boring and horrible. Well, except for the two one minute interludes, I guess they’re fine.
Going into this album, after hearing the lead single, I was expecting an album full of what those three standouts gave me, but instead we get the lamest, most flaccid, and least creative set of songs Martin has ever written. Some of them sound like unfeeling Ed Sheeran ballads like “Everglow” or “Amazing Day,” or some of them are pop songs without bold melodies, rendering them useless, like “Hymn for the Weekend,” (with Beyonce), or “Fun” with Tove Lo. Or some of them are offensively bad and unprofessional, like the two part vomit inducing “Army of One / X Marks the Spot.” The first part, aside from being totally un-engaging musically, features some of the most laughably lazy lyricism I’ve heard all year. Here are the lyrics to the first verse:
“Been around the world, wonders to view
Been around the world, looking for someone like you
Pyramids try, Babylon too
But the beautiful-est treasures lie in the deepest blue.”
Call me a cynical nitpicky asshole all you want, but that fucking sucks.
The second part gets much worse, though. Here, Coldplay attempt something like a trap instrumental, and yes! You guessed correct, Chris Martin does not sound remotely good over trap. It’s just sounds so thrown together; a good melody is non-existent and the sound isn’t filled out at all. Chris knows it’s bullshit, as he’s literally slurring his words all over this track like he just got drunk and twirled his way into the booth and just said,
“A Head Full of Dreams” is unfortunately the nail in the coffin of a once very good band. It’s clear that they’re not even trying anymore aside from those three songs, which I’ll still maintain are very good. But they’re just the few read-able words on a paper smeared with Chris Martin’s own shit.
Standout Tracks: “A Head Full of Dreams” “Birds” “Adventure of a Lifetime”