Published by JB on December 12, 2015.
Album Review: Coldplay – A Head Full of Dreams
Release date: December 4th, 2015
"under this pressure, under this weight,
we are diamonds taking shape" from 'Adventure of a Lifetime'
Somewhere during a seven album career, Coldplay became the most polarizing band of our generation. Their albums have pissed us off, delighted us and probably most often, slightly disappointed us. They were supposed to be a more radio-friendly version of Radiohead, or the heir apparent to U2, or something more worthy of what they've always tried so hard to be: the biggest band in the world. Instead they've become rock's version of the Chicago Cubs. Wait 'til next year.
As years have gone by Coldplay has become more and more dominated by Chris Martin. Intensely talented and armed with a keen variety of style and melody, he's too purposefully pathetic to be cool. He'll never be as clever as Bono, or like the odd genius of Thom Yorke, or the storyteller like Springsteen. Instead, he's merely a man on a self-proclaimed mission to make a generation of Twitter-haters sing-along to his tunes. Bad timing.
A Head Full of Dreams is sugary mess of catchy, sometimes great, sometimes really great pop songs. Coldplay's creative peak hit in 2008 with Viva La Vida. This new album is meant for sunny days on a Sunday drive. Where Viva La Vida was their most brilliant collection, A Head Full of Dreams has no desire to challenge that pedestal. It's an album of pop freedom in which Martin explores all of his catchiest hooks in a tight 45 minute stretch. 'Adventure of a Lifetime' is the perfect 2015 pop song with one additional irresistible hook that makes a surprise appearance during the song's final minute.
The criticism of Martin for bringing in the likes of Beyoncé, Noel Gallagher, Tove Lo and others feels more like his 'fuck you' to his critics. He's going to make an album that sounds the way he wants it to, not the way we think we want it to. This album achieves Martin's goals, but not ours. And that's where Coldplay will always differ from the other biggest bands of all time. There was always that seminal moment in U2's catalog, or Radiohead's catalog, or R.E.M's catalog, or Nirvana's catalog where they made the brilliant album that everyone also wanted. Coldplay simply makes albums they wish everyone would want. Once in awhile it works, and quite often it doesn't.