Having already graced eager listeners ears with complex lyrics, multi-layered melodies, and spectacular vocal ranges, Coldplay holds a high bar in the field of artistic quality. There’s no denying that the band resides within a spectrum of genre that could be labeled “pop,” but before their newest album release, this pre-conceived classification could easily be called into question.
What pushes Coldplay over the pop line and into the alternative scene are its rock melodies, masterful synthesizer use, acoustic instruments mixed in flawlessly, melodic interludes, dreamy and whimsical, as well as gut-wrenchingly-honest songs: factors that are all missing from their newest album.
The album begins with “A Head Full of Dreams,” the title track. An obvious slow synth leads into minutes of peppy guitar plucking and drum rhythm. This is followed by “Birds,” a fast, yet slow, melody about two lovers finding harmony within the world and each other, a theme too often seen in the mass pop market today.
If long-time fans haven’t yet found the album unbearable by now, the third track is sure to cinch the metaphorical hatred knot.
“Hymn for the Weekend,” while inexplicably popular as a single, dwells in the shallow end of the dry, cracked wading pool of the music industry.
The poetic band that once sang, “The birds they sang, at break of day/‘Start again,’ I hear them say/It’s so hard to just walk away/The birds they sand, all a choir/‘Start again a little higher’/It’s a spark in a sea of gray,” now churn out the single’s profoundly philosophical “I oh, I oh, I oh/Now I’m feeling drunk and high/So high, so high/Woo!”
Should that evidence not be enough to convince new listeners and old fans alike, the next few tracks (“Everglow,” “Adventure of a Lifetime,” “Fun,” “Army of One,” “Amazing Day,” and the closing “Up&Up”) become indistinguishable and forgotten nearly after the album has stricken its last note; and amid arbitrary tracks playing back bits of an unidentifiable speech. The underwhelming mediocrity of this once-great band slaps listeners like a wet towel, the substance itself matters little, but the maddening sensation of not being able to shake off that experience sticks.
Fans have called this album the midlife crisis moment for Coldplay. Heaven knows those who are disappointed with “A Head Full of Dreams” hope that the band will move away from this plummet in quality. One can hope that after such a slump can only come another highpoint.