Coldplay are back after just a year and a half of hiatus and they’re bigger than ever. Following the release of 2014’s mellow breakup album, Ghost Stories, the band promised a happier, more colourful record and A Head Full of Dreams is just that. This album is another U-turn for the band and a true musical whirlwind as bright as they come.
It starts right off with title track ‘A Head Full of Dreams’, an ecstatic, starry-eyed expression of wonder with an enormous sound, focusing very heavily on the instrumental build-up and the funky bass lines, which are perfectly complimented by some signature Coldplay, audience friendly ‘woahhhhh’s. The twinkling chimes draw the listener in immediately and the atmosphere of the track gives an idea of what to expect from the rest of the album. ‘Birds’ is a fun, soaring song about hope and overcoming circumstances. It sets the mood high with its bright riffs, amazing vocals, brisk tempo and playful melody. The track propels into an ending so abrupt you don’t see it coming, leaving you slightly confused the first few times you hear it.
‘Hymn For the Weekend’ is the album’s second single and features the vocals of, none other than, global super star Beyoncé. This is pretty much the polar opposite of what you’d expect from the same band who delivered ‘God Put A Smile Upon Your Face’ back in the days; it’s got a hip-hop influenced drumbeat and an overall poppy vibe to it, which Beyoncé compliments perfectly with her soaring vocals. ‘Everglow’ is at the other end of the spectrum; it’s a heartfelt, piano-led ballad about lost love and fits in well with the rest of the upbeat songs on the album. Despite being slightly sad in nature, it leaves a feeling of hope for something better, hereby making it extremely relatable. Same thing goes for ‘Fun’, featuring Swedish pop singer Tove Lo. The track is backed by a consistent, echoey, laden drumbeat and a catchy, reverb guitar riff. Tove’s subtle vocals are an enjoyable touch to the song and create a lovely atmosphere.
Lead single ‘Adventure of a Lifetime’ is an upbeat style reminiscent of disco-rock and starts with a high-pitched, catchy riff from guitarist Jonny Buckland, which forms the basis of the track and is repeated throughout. It’s high energy, fun and catchy, certainly, but hardly groundbreaking. ‘Army of One’ consists of a repeated synth beat combined with layers of guitars and an amazing drumbeat, which creates a massive wall of sound that could fill out stadiums. Lyrics like, “and there isn’t a fire that I wouldn’t walk through / my army of one is gonna fight for you” showcase Chris Martin’s talent for songwriting and are what makes ‘Army of One’ the strongest track, lyrically at least, on the album.
The record draws to a close with ‘Up and Up’, a song the frontman said they’d “wanted to write for 15 years”. It consists of a hip-hop beat and a classic Chris Martin piano riff, which combined with gospel style vocals from Merry Clayton gives it a stadium sing-along kind of feel. Noel Gallagher also features and contributes with a trademark big sounding guitar solo, which adds a whole other element of brilliancy to the track.
Overall, A Head Full of Dreams an album that portrays Coldplay putting a foot into unfamiliar waters and leaving their ‘rock band’ status behind. They’ve always been a band to evolve their sound with every record, but this is probably the most remarkable change of all. If this album really is the last one to be seen from Coldplay, we at The Indiependent think it’s pretty safe to say they’ve gone out with a flashbang of colour, positivity and a message to never give up.
Words by Caroline Oestergaard