A Record Full Of Revival, But A Project Full Of Inconsistency: Fitz’s Well-Thought-Out Review Of Coldplay’s 7th Album

NOTE: Sry for the long absence. I’ve been workin’ a lot this break and haven’t found a whole lotta time to write. Plus, I’ve finally collected my thoughts on the album. More on that tidbit below.

We can split hairs here. We really can.

We can say we’ve waited about a year and a half for a new Coldplay album. Technically, we have. From May 16th/19th, 2014 (depending on where you live) to December 4th, 2015, we had a gap between LP6 and LP7.

But in terms of a true Coldplay album, we’ve had to wait since October 25th, 2011: the day after Mylo Xyloto was dropped.

Like any Coldplay album, Ghost Stories obviously had different musical styles than its predecessors. And I marvel that. However, due to the conscious uncoupling of Chris Martin and Yoko Paltrow, we didn’t get the Coldplay we were used to.

i am the worst

Now I appreciate the different lyrical outlook that Ghost Stories brought us. Chris’ emotional stamp on it is clear–and it works at times–but it honestly didn’t feel like all four guys were as emotionally or physically invested. It was, in simple terms, a glorified Chris solo project.

Which is why I feel like I’ve been waiting for a Coldplay album for over four years.

And now, after that long and grueling wait, we finally have A Head Full of Dreams.

3ahfod

Chris is finally matched with Jonny, Will, and Guy again to create an album that breathes new life into one of the biggest bands on the planet.

The energy, the atmosphere, the gel, it’s there (in parts) on this album. We’ve seen it so many times and we see it yet again (at times). From the very opening, A Head Full of Dreams lets everyone know that the boys are back to trying innovative, exciting, and open-minded things

“A Head Full of Dreams” has been in my life for like a month and it’s already throwing its hat into the race for the best Coldplay opening track. It’s phenomenal, and it’ll only grow on me more when I see it live (because, yes, I’m going no matter what). A heart-pounding anthem, it shows what the album is all about: an abundance of different sequences and experiences combining to create a positive outlook on life. It’s the album’s overture, if you will.

And “Birds,” dat bassline doe. That low key might be my favorite song on the album. High energy, amazing chemistry, it’s what the band was looking for in this project.

The flow from that into “Hymn For The Weekend,” which, if dropped as a single, should and will be played by millions, is great. I thought this was gonna be hijacked by Bęÿøñčé when I saw she was gonna be featured, but her backing vocals add a great layer to the song.

“Everglow” is the big emotional song on the album. It’s a beautiful ballad, besides the whole Yoko bit. Chris yet again proves he can churn out amazing piano melodies and hit those high notes like a champ.

And of course, “Adventure Of A Lifetime” is bitchin’. The disco-y Coldplay is a Coldplay that sounds weird in concept, but ends up being a smash. I’ve already gone over how awesome of a song it is on the blog.

Now you might be thinking to yourself, “Hey Fitz, this sounds like a legendary album so far! Tell me more!”

Welllllllll, that’s the thing.

Andersen commented in his Top 10 Albums list that my review for the album will be later than most. That’s true.

Know why it’s coming late? Because I’m trying to be objective, not subjective.

If I reviewed this album a few days after it dropped, I’d be giving it an A. This album isn’t an A. To be honest, it’s not that close to an A. I needed this album to sink in with me. I’ve done that with every Coldplay album that has dropped ever since I was old enough to be excited for album releases.

I did it with Mylo Xyloto. When I first heard it start to finish, I wasn’t too sold on it at first. I loved the songs that were dropped beforehand (“ETIAW” and “Paradise”) but I didn’t fall in love with it right away. Now, it’s one of my favorite albums ever, minus “Princess of China.”

 

A Head Full Of Dreams is the opposite.

I was digging basically everything on the album when it first came out, and now I’m back down to Earth.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s a good album, by any bands’ standards–even Coldplay’s–but it doesn’t crack their top 3 and may not even make their Mt. Rushmore.

Why? The middle of the album is packed with waste tracks. “Fun” hasn’t really grown on me. It’s alright, but very vanilla, even with Tove Lo on it. It’s a nice duet, but I feel like so much more could’ve been done with it.

“Kaleidoscope” flowing into “Army of One” is a nice transition into a very big song. Echoy, made for stadiums, etc. Again, I like it, but I don’t love it. Lyrically it’s solid, but I dunno. Something about the instrumentals. I think it emphasizes a little too much of synths. It doesn’t let the rest of the instruments carry it. It’s not a bad song but it leaves a lot to be desired.

Then, ugh.

“X Marks The Spot.”

I don’t know what to say about this straight up awful song. It’s the second worst thing this band has produced behind “Princess Of China.” Chris just sounds like a creepy guy at a party who won’t leave that one chick alone.

Listen to it and try telling me you don’t have to shower. It’s unsettling, confusing, and weird–in the bad way. I like good weird. Shit, I love it actually. I love Kid A and that’s the Michael Jordan of weird music. But this piece of shit? No thanks.

What bothers me is the fact that it’s SUCH a weird way to precede “Amazing Day,” which is another good-not-great song. The latter half with the chants is much better than the beginning half, and it’s a song with a lot of heart. It’s not stellar, but a solid track.

“Up&Up” is just a better version of “Amazing Day.” I’m glad that’s how they ended the album because it’s stellar. The chorus, the guitar solos from Jonny Boy and Noel Gallaher, this song is genuinely great and breaks a string of songs that could very easily be skipped over.

The album shows the band “(feeling) alive again,” to steal a line from “AOAL,” but that doesn’t necessarily translate into a terrific album. As a fan, I recognize this. I don’t wanna battle from beginning to end be a blind follower and say that everything Coldplay makes is legendary. That’s just not true.

While A Head Full Of Dreams has some tremendous pieces to it, the collective whole is, well, just alright. Expectations were set sky high after the disappointing Ghost Stories.

Am I disappointed? No. The awesome songs alone were worth the late. I’ve been playing the first few tracks and “Up&Up” nonstop. But this album could’ve been better, and that stings a little bit.

The sense of revival is evident, and at times it bears tremendous fruit. But at other times, it seems like Coldplay can’t find the right balance. “Fun” is too timid, “Amazing Day” is a little too larger-than-life, and then “X Marks The Spot” is just puke.

Granted, this is all viewed through the lens of Coldplay’s other stuff. They’re like pizza or sex: even when it’s not good, it’s still pretty good. For any other band, this is a solid album. But for Chris, Jonny, Will, and Guy, it’s good but not great. It will leave me asking “What If…” like it’s 2005 all over again. It’s lyrically sound, but musically? Not as much. Maybe this album will continue to grow on me like some other albums, but the reaction I’m getting as it seeps into me is a mixed one.

Oh, and this isn’t their last album, by the way. Please stop believing that. Chris Martin has said this album is more like the end of one story, or a chapter in a book, and another story will take off in due time. Think of it as the rebirth of U2 with “Achtung Baby.” To quote Bono, Coldplay will have to “dream it all up again.”

I just wished they were album to dream it all up for this album. They were able to dream up about 78% of it, so it makes sense why I give A Head Full Of Dreams7.8. The album had the potential to rival their all-time bests, but the complete body of work isn’t enough. Again, this is on the Coldplay scale, with A Rush Of Blood To The Head being a 10.

Updated Coldplay Album Power Rankings

  1. A Rush Of Blood To The Head
  2. Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends
  3. Mylo Xyloto
  4. X&Y
  5. A Head Full Of Dreams
  6. Parachutes
  7. Ghost Stories

Bring on the tour. Fuck Gwyneth. Coldplay forever.

chris martin dunk