Coldplay: a cacophony of chaos

“A Head Full of Dreams,”
Alternative Rock
Dec. 4 2015

The British classic alternative rock, pop-rock and synth-pop band Coldplay released its seventh album, “A Head Full of Dreams” in early December. In 1996, the band was formed by lead singer Chris Martin, lead guitarist Jonny Buckland, drummer and backup vocalist Will Champion, and bassist Guy Berryman. “A Head Full of Dreams” and “Ghost Stories,” released in May 2014, marked a new era of music for Coldplay, straying from its original musical style and gravitating toward EDM and upbeat melodies. “A Head Full of Dreams” incorporates the soulful and piano-pop elements from past albums with a psychedelic vibe and a strong instrumental base. The pleasing instrumentals in the songs play the important role of compensating for the lack of ballads and meaningful lyrics.

The first single of the album to be released to the public on November 6, 2015 was “Adventure of a Lifetime.” The single immediately, and almost forcefully, introduced Coldplay’s new style with a catchy guitar riff and vocals. The song is led by compelling instrumentals from Buckman’s guitar and Berryman’s bass, and is accented with simple lyrics and Martin’s singing. However, the lyrics are not Coldplay’s usual ballads with captivating meanings and stories; the songs in the album taint Coldplay’s reputation for composing well-written songs.

There are usually hiatus periods lasting 3 years between the releases of Coldplay’s albums. “A Head Full of Dreams” was released less than a year after “Ghost Stories.” However, the rush to release the album has resulted in the failure to fulfill fans’ high expectations.

In an interview with Ryan Seacrest earlier in November, Martin said, “We’re making an album that we’re really excited about. It feels like the finale of a certain story, the closing chapter of a story, the party scene, or the end of a movie. We feel like we’ve been trying to get to this for ages. That’s how I always wanted us to sound.”

Along with an obvious variation in music genres, Coldplay confirms the band’s evolution with its first-ever breakup song, “Everglow,” released on November 26, 2015. The song is about the divorce between Martin and American actress Gwyneth Paltrow. “Everglow” divulges in the significance Paltrow had in Martin’s life as he sings, “I know you’re always with me/And the way you will show/You’re with me wherever I go/And you give me this feeling, this everglow.” The song’s style most accurately reflects Coldplay’s old style of lyrical ballads and slow tempos. The compositions in this song, and throughout the album, are strong and preserve Coldplay’s musical talent. However, the lyrics are vapid and without meaning. Despite the song being a breakup song, the lyrics are shallow and could be written by any amateur artist.

The seventh track is the centerpiece of the album, although it is not what most people would expect. “Kaleidoscope” is not a song, but rather an experience that sparks confusion and begs the question, what went through the minds of the band members? The piece includes an excerpt of the poem “The Guest House” by 13th century Persian poet Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi. After one minute and 25 seconds of utter bewilderment, the song transitions into “Amazing Grace” sung by President Obama at the funeral of a victim of the Charleston church shooting during the summer of 2015. This track epitomizes the new direction in which the band is leaning towards: unstable songs with unpredictable production.

The erratic theme of “A Head Full of Dreams” is confusing. Despite its strong instrumentals, Coldplay ultimately deviates from its traditional soft classic rock and meaningful lyrics, insistently pushing toward synthetic electronic sounds. The new Coldplay era consists of many collaborations such as “Hymn for the Weekend” featuring Beyoncé and “Fun” featuring Swedish singer Tove Lo. “A Head Full of Dreams” is a perplexing album in all the unusual ways, yet the members of Coldplay believed they achieved the sound they have been striving for throughout their careers.