Jump to content
🎉 WATCH COLDPLAY LIVE AT iHEART RADIO FESTIVAL 2020 🎉
CP-EST

AHFOD Reviews by Music Critics

Recommended Posts

There is one thing that has always made me laugh at Coldplay album reviews no matter which album they have been for...

 

They always seem very positive for the most part. You're reading along thinking ok that's good, uh huh that's good, wow it seems like they really liked it, only to get to the bottom and see a 3/5 or a 6/10 or something. It's almost if these professional critics just can't pull the trigger on giving a Coldplay album an excellent review. As if they will lose their professional credibility in doing so. Even in the body of that pitchfork review I see nothing that would warrant that low of an actual score. I wasn't reading it expecting a 10/10 or anything but oh well... I'm loving it and that's all that matters.

 

My thoughts exactly. It's such a weird thing. Sometimes I feel like they do so to keep said publication from looking like they, as a whole, love Coldplay.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So objectively I can totally see why a professional music critic--who listens to tons of quality stuff all the time--finds AHFOD to be a bad album. I feel like in order to enjoy these songs I really gotta convince myself to as a Coldplay fan...and thats not good. In all honestly, since last Friday I have played the whole album through once a day and I am already kind of over it. It just feels like it is missing something...I hope I am just crazy.

I played it a lot on Friday and Saturday, but I tried my best to hold off listening to it until it now in order to save some excitement. It has helped me appreciate the song Army of One better. But, the album still lacks that hook. I don't feel like I wanna stay up until morning listening to this. It's a good album, but I'd rather go back to bed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know... My issue is that I really agree with a lot of what the Pitchfork reviewer says. When I listen to AHFOD while say, doing homework, it just starts and is over. There is nothing that really grabs me. It feels like a pop playlist with a few catchy sparkles.

 

So objectively I can totally see why a professional music critic--who listens to tons of quality stuff all the time--finds AHFOD to be a bad album... it really is overly saccharine, and it doesn't really do anything radically different to the Coldplay formula. I feel like in order to enjoy these songs I really gotta convince myself to as a Coldplay fan...and thats not good. In all honestly, since last Friday I have played the whole album through once a day and I am already kind of over it. It just feels like it is missing something...

 

I hope I am just crazy, but maybe 7 albums in and its hard to enjoy new stuff when there are only so many songs a band can write you know? I am just partial to Oldplay stuff. With these recent albums I feel like I just end by grabbing 3-4 tracks to love (Birds, AOAL, Amazing Day, Up&Up) and just forget the rest...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A failure to commit to pop

3/5

Few albums in recent memory have suffered from more dispiriting advance publicity than Coldplay’s A Head Full of Dreams. It came not from the sources that dispiriting advance publicity about albums usually does – not from snarky music journalists, or a candid interview revealing that its recording was unbridled misery and the end product a disappointment – but from the celebrity gossip press, in which Chris Martin has been unlucky enough to find himself a permanent fixture since his marriage to Gwyneth Paltrow. It was April when Heat magazine offered some white-hot intelligence on Martin’s creative stimulus for the follow-up to Ghost Stories, courtesy of one of those “unnamed insiders” they’re always quoting. “He tells friends there’s no better way to find song inspiration than experiencing sexual chemistry with another human. He’s pretty much written an entire album of his love escapades since he officially became single.”

 

That idea seems so ghastly that it’s hard not to wonder whether the whole thing was not some kind of demented fabrication, but counter-intelligence deliberately planted by Coldplay themselves, on the grounds that whatever they were in the process of coming up with couldn’t possibly be as awful as that. And so it proves with A Head Full of Dreams, on which the production seat once occupied by Brian Eno and electronic auteur Jon Hopkins is given over to Stargate: any Coldplayfans of the Real-Music-Played-By-Real-Musicians bent, horrified to find the quartet working with the Norwegian team responsible for, among other things, Rihanna’s Umbrella, Katy Perry’s Firework and Ylvis’ novelty hit What Does The Fox Say, might console themselves with the fact that at least they’re not listening to an entire album of Chris Martin’s “love escapades”. But actually, you are sporadically assailed by the terrible fear that some of the lyrics might be about that very topic – that the Adventure of a Lifetime alluded to in one title might involve the newly single frontman swashbuckling his way through a variety of conquests, among them the lady he approvingly, if oddly, compares to both the Pyramids and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in Army of One. But frankly, it’s almost impossible to tell: for once, Martin’s inability to write in anything other than cliches and generalisations feels like a small mercy rather than a black mark.

There’s something appealing about Coldplay throwing in their lot with unashamed makers of manufactured pop. It seems to involve a tacit acknowledgement that the band’s real strength lies not in the handing out of windy platitudes, but the writing of hook-laden melodies; a recognition that the best thing about, say, 2011’s Mylo Xyloto wasn’t its terrible futuristic dystopia concept, but the tune of

. Certainly, A Head Full of Dreams is at its best when Coldplay stick to the brief suggested by Stargate’s presence.

 

The title track adds some pep to the tried-and-tested Coldplay formula – echoing guitars, bombastic piano, massed, stadium-rousing woah-oh vocals – by tying it to a disco pulse, while Hymn for the Weekend bowls along on an R&Bish beat. It’s one of several tracks that features a hook made from a vocal cut up into an unintelligible loop, an idea derived from

and currently voguish with pop producers, although this being an album made in the rarefied environs of the musical aristocracy, the unintelligible voice has been provided by Beyoncé. Not all the album’s pop dabblings work – the hidden track X Marks the Spot features another R&B-inspired beat, and a lyric about putting your hands up in the sky delivered in a curious mid-Atlantic drawl that you fear may be the sound of Chris Martin “being funky” – but there’s a quite charming crispness and lightness of touch about something like Birds, with its snappy early-80s drum machine pattern and brusque ending, or indeed Fun. The latter song seems to be a more measured response to the Paltrow-Martin separation than the gloom of Ghost Stories, rosily recalling the good times before the Conscious Uncoupling – you can almost picture the cosy evenings in, curled up with a romantic glass or two of dandelion leaf and lacinato kale juice – and ending with a teasing line clearly aimed at the kind of magazines big on quotes from unnamed insiders: “But then, maybe we could again.”

 

This stuff is a lot more appealing than the moments when Coldplay revert to type. Our old pal the windy platitude blows in once more on Kaleidoscope, a musical interlude featuring not merely a sample of Barack Obama singing Amazing Grace, but a booming voice reading out Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī’s The Guest House, a poem popular with the manufacturers of motivational posters featuring soft-focus photos of sunrises and mountains in mist. Everglow, meanwhile, is the kind of nondescript piano ballad that amounts to Coldplay sounding the way that people who hate Coldplay think Coldplay sound.

 

To which Coldplay might reasonably respond: yeah, smartarse, and it’s also the kind of nondescript piano ballad that has shifted us 80m albums. Like their Eno-abetted attempt at experimentation on 2008’sViva La Vida, A Head Full of Dreams is frustratingly blighted by the sense that Coldplay haven’t fully committed to the album’s big idea: they keep deviating from the Stargate pop plan to knock out stuff like Amazing Day, which has a guitar line brazenly pinched from John Barry’s Midnight Cowboy theme and is self-evidently going to turn up soundtracking clip montages on sports programmes and reality shows for the rest of eternity. It’s a moot point whether that’s a sign of innate conservatism or of a band that know exactly what they are doing, who understand that you won’t keep packing out those Midwestern sports stadiums if you frighten the horses. As it is, there doesn’t seem much chance of Coldplay performing to empty seats in the immediate future.

 

The Guardian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
A failure to commit to pop

3/5

Few albums in recent memory have suffered from more dispiriting advance publicity than Coldplay’s A Head Full of Dreams. It came not from the sources that dispiriting advance publicity about albums usually does – not from snarky music journalists, or a candid interview revealing that its recording was unbridled misery and the end product a disappointment – but from the celebrity gossip press, in which Chris Martin has been unlucky enough to find himself a permanent fixture since his marriage to Gwyneth Paltrow. It was April when Heat magazine offered some white-hot intelligence on Martin’s creative stimulus for the follow-up to Ghost Stories, courtesy of one of those “unnamed insiders” they’re always quoting. “He tells friends there’s no better way to find song inspiration than experiencing sexual chemistry with another human. He’s pretty much written an entire album of his love escapades since he officially became single.”

 

That idea seems so ghastly that it’s hard not to wonder whether the whole thing was not some kind of demented fabrication, but counter-intelligence deliberately planted by Coldplay themselves, on the grounds that whatever they were in the process of coming up with couldn’t possibly be as awful as that. And so it proves with A Head Full of Dreams, on which the production seat once occupied by Brian Eno and electronic auteur Jon Hopkins is given over to Stargate: any Coldplayfans of the Real-Music-Played-By-Real-Musicians bent, horrified to find the quartet working with the Norwegian team responsible for, among other things, Rihanna’s Umbrella, Katy Perry’s Firework and Ylvis’ novelty hit What Does The Fox Say, might console themselves with the fact that at least they’re not listening to an entire album of Chris Martin’s “love escapades”. But actually, you are sporadically assailed by the terrible fear that some of the lyrics might be about that very topic – that the Adventure of a Lifetime alluded to in one title might involve the newly single frontman swashbuckling his way through a variety of conquests, among them the lady he approvingly, if oddly, compares to both the Pyramids and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in Army of One. But frankly, it’s almost impossible to tell: for once, Martin’s inability to write in anything other than cliches and generalisations feels like a small mercy rather than a black mark.

There’s something appealing about Coldplay throwing in their lot with unashamed makers of manufactured pop. It seems to involve a tacit acknowledgement that the band’s real strength lies not in the handing out of windy platitudes, but the writing of hook-laden melodies; a recognition that the best thing about, say, 2011’s Mylo Xyloto wasn’t its terrible futuristic dystopia concept, but the tune of

. Certainly, A Head Full of Dreams is at its best when Coldplay stick to the brief suggested by Stargate’s presence.

 

The title track adds some pep to the tried-and-tested Coldplay formula – echoing guitars, bombastic piano, massed, stadium-rousing woah-oh vocals – by tying it to a disco pulse, while Hymn for the Weekend bowls along on an R&Bish beat. It’s one of several tracks that features a hook made from a vocal cut up into an unintelligible loop, an idea derived from

and currently voguish with pop producers, although this being an album made in the rarefied environs of the musical aristocracy, the unintelligible voice has been provided by Beyoncé. Not all the album’s pop dabblings work – the hidden track X Marks the Spot features another R&B-inspired beat, and a lyric about putting your hands up in the sky delivered in a curious mid-Atlantic drawl that you fear may be the sound of Chris Martin “being funky” – but there’s a quite charming crispness and lightness of touch about something like Birds, with its snappy early-80s drum machine pattern and brusque ending, or indeed Fun. The latter song seems to be a more measured response to the Paltrow-Martin separation than the gloom of Ghost Stories, rosily recalling the good times before the Conscious Uncoupling – you can almost picture the cosy evenings in, curled up with a romantic glass or two of dandelion leaf and lacinato kale juice – and ending with a teasing line clearly aimed at the kind of magazines big on quotes from unnamed insiders: “But then, maybe we could again.”

 

This stuff is a lot more appealing than the moments when Coldplay revert to type. Our old pal the windy platitude blows in once more on Kaleidoscope, a musical interlude featuring not merely a sample of Barack Obama singing Amazing Grace, but a booming voice reading out Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī’s The Guest House, a poem popular with the manufacturers of motivational posters featuring soft-focus photos of sunrises and mountains in mist. Everglow, meanwhile, is the kind of nondescript piano ballad that amounts to Coldplay sounding the way that people who hate Coldplay think Coldplay sound.

 

To which Coldplay might reasonably respond: yeah, smartarse, and it’s also the kind of nondescript piano ballad that has shifted us 80m albums. Like their Eno-abetted attempt at experimentation on 2008’sViva La Vida, A Head Full of Dreams is frustratingly blighted by the sense that Coldplay haven’t fully committed to the album’s big idea: they keep deviating from the Stargate pop plan to knock out stuff like Amazing Day, which has a guitar line brazenly pinched from John Barry’s Midnight Cowboy theme and is self-evidently going to turn up soundtracking clip montages on sports programmes and reality shows for the rest of eternity. It’s a moot point whether that’s a sign of innate conservatism or of a band that know exactly what they are doing, who understand that you won’t keep packing out those Midwestern sports stadiums if you frighten the horses. As it is, there doesn’t seem much chance of Coldplay performing to empty seats in the immediate future.

 

The Guardian

This is a joke

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Coldplay has said they don't pay attention to critics, and though that may be so, a 50% drop in sales from an album released a year before is something they will definitely notice. I don't think Coldplay will ever break up and will make music for decades to come... But I think this era will end with this tour.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Nearly every song is about ascension and transcendence, be it through intoxicants (the Beyoncé-assisted "Hymn for the Weekend"), rocket ships (the unlisted, listless slow jam "X Marks the Spot"), out-of-body experiences (bonus track "Miracles"), large ocean waves ("Fun"), rooftop stargazing ("Amazing Day"), winged creatures ("Birds"), or just sheer force of will ("Up&Up"—and this from a band that’s already written a song called
).

 

Which version of this album did the Pitchfork reviewer write from? I hope it wasn't one of those god-awful quality leaks he/she got it from, otherwise what a disservice, and how unprofessional... I'm just surprised they got the Japanese edition.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
^ What a terrible review!!

The Guardian has now given 6/10 to each Coldplay album, i think :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Guys lets not act prematurely. Just because a professional critic is unkind to what he/she believes to be a mediocre album you shouldn't feel threatened or aggravated. So far nearly all reviews and scores have been accurate in describing what really is a mediocre and at times terrible album.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest howyousawtheworld

Never seen so many average reviews for a Coldplay album. There ain't much polarisation here - it's slap bang in the middle average.

 

http://www.metacritic.com/music/a-head-full-of-dreams/coldplay

 

I guess that's what you get when you hire a production team who have no respect for organic, original guitar based music. And don't think Rik Simpson is getting away from this. If he mixed this album (which a lot of people say) then it's an appalling mix. Such a massive disrespect for guitar by trying to drown it underneath all that intrusive and unwelcome electronic beats and rhythm.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

3/5

 

After expressing a state of emotional paralysis following his “conscious uncoupling” from Gwyneth Paltrow on 2014’s meditative Ghost Stories, Coldplay’s seventh album finds frontman Chris Martin moving on.In fact, it’s all momentum, if rather short on melody. Head Full of Dreams is driven by propulsive beats and cheerleading handclaps with the band keen to reassure the people of the world that there are “miracles at work” and that we can party on.

 

Big, inspirational American guest stars, including Beyoncé and Barack Obama, offer their support with confident and professional detachment while Martin keeps popping up with embarrassed but optimistic little “wooo-hooos”, like a British ghost in the audience of his own motivational party. You can hear some of this on the new single, Adventure of a Lifetime, which references Daft Punk’s Get Lucky in the bass line. In fact, although Obama says he does listen to Coldplay, he didn’t take time out of running a superpower to record anything special for this record.

 

The band were just given permission to include a scratchy sample of the 44th President of the United States singing Amazing Grace at the funeral of the Rev Clementa C Pinckney, who was killed during a shooting at a South Alabama church in June. The real star of the short track, Kaleidoscope, featuring the Obama sample, is the 78-year-old American poet Coleman Barks, who reads his own translation of a poem by the 13th-century Sufi mystic Rumi, including the lines: “This being human is a guest house/ Every morning a new arrival./ A joy, a depression, a meanness,/ some momentary awareness comes/ as an unexpected visitor.”

 

Set afloat on a gentle pool of piano and glockenspiel, the combination of Barks’s rich, sonorous certainty and Rumi’s ancient wisdom makes a beautiful still point at the centre of a relentlessly forward-marching record. Beyoncé makes more of her appearance on Hymn for the Weekend, bringing her chunky harmonies and no-nonsense brass section to a peppy little excursion into indie r&b which opens with a paradisiacal fanfare and finds Martin dropping out of his falsetto autopilot into a more raw voice. He recalls a time when he was “low and hurt” before floating up back into the rafters to sing about feeling “drunk and high”. Paltrow appears to have moved on, too. At least enough to contribute backing vocals to the graceful piano ballad Everglow, about the love and admiration that can survive a break-up. Throughout, the band’s big, bittersweet sound is, as ever, wonderfully immersive: whalesong cycles of electric guitar echoing through a buoyant soup of synths that sound both pleasant and forgettable.

 

The Telegraph

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Coldplay

A Head Full of Dreams

Atlantic / Parlophone; 2015

By Stuart Berman; December 4, 2015

 

On the

on their very first album, Coldplay introduced themselves with a heartfelt declaration: "We live in a beautiful world." Fifteen years and some 80 million albums sold later, the British quartet haven’t elaborated on that philosophy—they’ve just amplified it. Where massive success has a tendency to make bands more jaded and aloof, Coldplay only seem more gobsmacked and in awe of life itself. Their songs aren’t just designed to uplift, they’re often about the very sensation of being uplifted. But on the band’s seventh album, A Head Full of Dreams, the band’s relentless campaign to raise our spirits is liable to induce altitude sickness.

 

Of course, there’s a perfectly logical reason for the album’s oversold optimism—A Head Full of Dreams is a reactionary retort to 2014’s Ghost Stories, a low-key response to a high-profile split that literally wore its (broken) heart on its sleeve. The new album, by contrast, is Martin’s unconscious recoupling record, the sound of a freshly single man stepping out onto the dancefloor to lose his mind and find new love. "You make me feel like I’m alive again," he sings atop the slinky disco of lead single "Adventure of a Lifetime", a lyric that succinctly sums up the spirit of the record like a movie poster tagline.

 

A Head Full of Dreams is Coldplay’s chance to reassert the eager-to-please exuberance thatGhost Stories deliberately downplayed, and prove that Adele isn’t the only artist who can mobilize a monoculture in 2015. Though written off by detractors as middle of the road, Coldplay’s centrist position is what ultimately makes them so singular—they’re the only rock band that could (and would want to) wrangle Beyoncé, Noel Gallagher, Tove Lo, Norwegian Top 40 architects Stargate, Kendrick Lamar producer Daniel Green, alt-rock lifer Nik Simpson, and

Merry Clayton on the same record. A Head Full of Dreams is emblematic of Coldplay’s burning desire to be all things to all people, rolling up symphonic Britpop bluster, club-thumping bangers, dentist-office soft rock, finger-snapping R&B, and even some trippy touches that remind you of a time when this band just wanted to be as popular as Mercury Rev.

 

But the album has bigger ambitions. By weaving a spoken-word reading of an inspirational 13th-century Persian poem and a sample of Barack Obama reciting "Amazing Grace" into the mix, the album essentially conflates Martin’s post-rebound optimism with an all-encompassing, heal-the-world mission. His relentless need to take us higher feels most genuine when we get a sense of what got him so low in the first place. "Everglow" and the Tove Lo collab "Fun" bring ultimate closure to the Gwyneth saga with a pledge to enduring friendship (and, to prove it, the former track features Martin’s ex on backing vocals). And despite bearing a title that

their poor-man’s U2 rep, "Amazing Day" is a sweet ode to blossoming, post-divorce romance that channels the winsome charm of early singles like "Shiver". Best of all is "Birds", a shot of taut, Phoenix-styled motorik pop that provides a rare moment of intensity on an album that’s all about arm-swaying, Super Bowl-crashing bombast.

 

Even when A Head Full of Dreams hints at experimentation, it inevitably drifts back onto predictable paths. The title track eases us into the album on a glistening groove but halts its momentum for a now-obligatory "woah oh oh oh" breakdown that sounds like it was focus-grouped into the song. When Martin sings "I feel my heart beating" on "Adventure of a Lifetime", the arrangement drops out, save for a throbbing bassline that mimics the sound of, well, take a guess. And the readymade, gospelized charidee-anthem-in-waiting "Up&Up" sees many of the aforementioned guests get together to sing, "we’re gonna get it together," before Gallagher delivers a send-off guitar solo that essentially turns the track into Coldplay’s Perrier Supernova. At one point in the song, Martin asks, "How can people suffer/ How can people part/ How can people struggle/ How can people break your heart?" He doesn’t profess to understand the root of all our problems, but he’ll do his damnedest to provide a cure anyway.

 

For all the record's eclecticism, Coldplay remain a band that put the "us" in "obvious," blowing up the simplest sentiments for maximum appeal. Nearly every song is about ascension and transcendence, be it through intoxicants (the Beyoncé-assisted "Hymn for the Weekend"), rocket ships (the unlisted, listless slow jam "X Marks the Spot"), out-of-body experiences (bonus track "Miracles"), large ocean waves ("Fun"), rooftop stargazing ("Amazing Day"), winged creatures ("Birds"), or just sheer force of will ("Up&Up"—and this from a band that’s already written a song called

). But Martin has a tendency to sing of extraordinary, mind-expanding experiences in muddled metaphors ("My army of one is going to fight for you … my heart is my gun") and rote "high"/"sky" rhymes. And with his many wide-eyed ruminations on stars and moons and hearts and diamonds, it can sound like he gets his lyrical inspiration from a spoonful of Lucky Charms. Martinrecently told the Wall Street Journal that he wanted "Hymn for the Weekend" to be the sort of single that would soundtrack a bottle-service bender at a nightclub and, essentially, that spirit of bonhomie permeates the entirety of A Head Full of Dreams. Except too often, the album’s pat platitudes place us on the other side of the velvet rope, left to ponder the sight of some self-satisfied people having the time of their lives.

4.8 / 10

 

Pitchfork

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guys lets not act prematurely. Just because a professional critic is unkind to what he/she believes to be a mediocre album you shouldn't feel threatened or aggravated. So far nearly all reviews and scores have been accurate in describing what really is a mediocre and at times terrible album.

 

Agreeing with that. Reviews are only critics' opinion, not the truth, but when there is many of same opinions, it becomes a truth. After giving to the album a bit more listens, I have to say, all that criticism is justified for this album and i'm not expecting really reviews with high ratings.

 

Although it feels nice and fun album in some moments, musically it's not reaching really to the levels it could and it's not entirely the Stargate's fault. Firstly, I think there is missing a song which could become a classic. Hymn for the Weekend was supposed to be the important song, but let's be honest, it's quite a mess musically. It's fun and dancey, but it won't be something like Paradise, Viva la Vida, Clocks, Yellow, Fix You. And also Adventure of a Lifetime won't something huge.

 

Also there is a certain feel like there is no depth in most of these songs. Something is really putting me off with this album, not sure what it is. There are some songs which really have the potential to be great, but they're not as great as they could. Although, in live these songs are feeling nice! Maybe that's the thing, these songs really give you a good feeling in concert, but listening and hoping for some quality music with depth can make you frustrated this time.

 

I'm sure these songs sound really great live, even the ones we haven't heard live yet. So with all the old songs and new songs combined together they can play a great show. Anyone who has the opportinity to go to the show, shouldn't think twice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

everything the guardian has publish related to chris and the music since the divorce have been citing those god-awful tabloid nonsense! i thought a respected media outlet like this would be above that sort of below the belt punches. really disappointed..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Coldplay has said they don't pay attention to critics, and though that may be so, a 50% drop in sales from an album released a year before is something they will definitely notice. I don't think Coldplay will ever break up and will make music for decades to come... But I think this era will end with this tour.

Do we have numbers? I think sell strategy for Christmas Eve is different to standard May/June release. Sales could be low but wouldn't drop through a month. I hope :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
everything the guardian has publish related to chris and the music since the divorce have been citing those god-awful tabloid nonsense! i thought a respected media outlet like this would be above that sort of below the belt punches. really disappointed..

Read today a beautiful article on Guardian:

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/dec/04/coldplay-fan-confession-superbowl-new-album

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This review has some great points, even if I don't agree with some of them: http://www.stereogum.com/1846312/premature-evaluation-coldplay-a-head-full-of-dreams/franchises/premature-evaluation/

 

[spoiler=review]

If A Head Full Of Dreams really does turn out to be the last Coldplay album, the band is giving one final gift to the Coldplay haters of the world. Of course, they’ve given those haters plenty of great presents over the years: Chris Martin’s Stipe-level dancing, the paint-splattered old-timey military uniforms, the constant and shameless self-deprecation. For reasons that go way beyond their music, Coldplay have been one of the world’s most embarrassing bands since long before The 40-Year-Old Virgin turned their existence into a homophobic joke. They’re grand and silly and perfectly willing to fall flat on their faces publicly. But they’re also a band capable of writing anthems, songs that will whip up big singalongs in rooms full of strangers. Their best songs — “Clocks,” “Yellow,” “Viva La Vida,” “Fix You” — have that sweeping sense of yearning that can absolutely transcend whatever silliness went into their creation. Over the years, they’ve hired Brian Eno, sampled Kraftwerk, and worked with Jay-Z — all without giving off the slightest impression that they’re trying to be cool. Instead, they’ve subtly adjusted to changing pop-music climates; as recently as last year’s Ghost Stories, they were offering sonic nods to Bon Iver and the xx and big-tent EDM, finding ways to seamlessly fit that music into their sadly swelling majesty. But A Head Full Of Dreams does none of those things, offering all the hammy grandiosity with none of the quiet power. It’s like a parody of a Coldplay album, and its the easiest-to-hate thing they’ve ever recorded.

 

Coldplay called in a lot of favors to make this one. They got Stargate, the Norwegian production team partially responsible for a lot of great Rihanna singles, to co-produce. They got Noel Gallagher to play negligible guitar on their closing anthem “Up&Up,” and they got “Gimme Shelter” backup howler Merry Clayton to do gospel wails on the same song, both of which basically serve to pad the song out to a seven-minute running time that the song itself never justifies. They got Beyoncé to sing incandescent harmonies all over “Hymn For The Weekend.” They got Gwenyth Paltrow, Chris Martin’s ex-wife, to sing on one of the songs that’s about not being married to Gwenyth Paltrow anymore, and they got Tove Lo (who, to the best of my knowledge, has never been married to Chris Martin or Gwenyth Paltrow) to sing on the other one. They got the damn White House to approve a couple of samples of Barack Obama singing “Amazing Grace,” drawing on the gravity of a recent, still-raw tragedy without ever justifying that association. As a sheer display of resources, A Head Full Of Dreams is impressive.

 

But all that starpower never makes up for the album’s lack of songs, and only one of those guest appearances — the Beyoncé one, not surprisingly — really improves the record in any discernible way. Instead, this is an album of big, empty gestures. There’s a lot of big-room thump on A Head Full Of Dreams, and that trick served Coldplay just fine on the Ghost Storiestrack “A Sky Full Of Stars” last year. But where that song had a hard, tangible hook, tracks like “A Head Full Of Dreams” and the single “Adventure Of A Lifetime” just decorate the kickdrums with spangled pseudo-Afropop guitars and whoa-oh-ohhhh chants. Lyrics have never been Coldplay’s strong point but here, nearly everything that comes out of Chris Martin’s mouth is a vague platitude about walking through fires or turning your magic on. Coldplay have been making inoffensive mush since they came along and wrote a song for you; it’s honestly part of their appeal. But this is the first time a Coldplay album that doesn’t have a single song I can hum after hearing it once. That’s new.

 

A Head Full Of Dreams isn’t a complete disaster. Singing on a song next to Beyoncé might make Chris Martin sound like an average vocalist, but there’s some easy chemistry to their vocal interplay on “Hymn For The Weekend.” “Everglow” and “Fun” are the two big divorce songs, and both of them are more direct and wounded than anything on Ghost Stories — which was, after all, Martin’s divorce album. They’re sadder partly because they’re the songs on which Martin tries to put a happy face on the breakup, even ending “Fun” with the suggestion that maybe they’ll get back together someday. It’s a rare moment of acute, cutting humanity from a songwriter who tends to prefer sloppy vagaries. And goofy though it may be, I like that Coldplay are still pretentious enough to build an entire song from a few piano tones and a recitation of an ancient Rumi poem.

 

Otherwise, though, A Head Full Of Dreams is an album that goes for down-the-middle crowd-pleasing pop and fails abjectly. The album feels like a forced attempt at a big statement, a craven pop move from a band who has, for the first time, failed to read the zeitgeist. The album comes only a few weeks after Adele’s 25, an album that went for straight-up unadorned classicist heartbreak. That album has absolutely captured the audience that Coldplay seems to desperately want to please, and it did it without all these attention-grabbing gimmicks. Coldplay are certainly capable of making an album as simple and moving as 25. Instead, they’ve badly overreached and made something that feels over-processed and underthought.

 

In a recent interview, Martin called the new album “the completion of something,” and added, “I have to think of it as the final thing we’re doing. Otherwise we wouldn’t put everything into it.” But if Coldplay stick around, hopefully they’ll put less into it next time. On A Head Full Of Dreams, they’re doing too much. And if this is all they can do right now, then maybe it really is time to hang it up.

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest howyousawtheworld

The band clearly had more fun making this record than most of us and the critics had listening to it.

 

What a shame.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest kmm1482

Listening to the album, I just sat there, almost the whole time, listless and in disbelief

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i'm a bit surprised here .. i can accept that this album is a step back from any other album but Ghost Stories ? NO WAY

still waiting for the Rolling Stones review otherwise i get to the point that i really don't care .. i enjoy MX more than the critics does and the same here with AHFOD and I'm sure Coldplay are very proud of it .. thank god for my ears lol

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, like I guessed, this is going to be Coldplay's worst reviewed album.

 

Kind of like Ghost Stories I think you either are going to love it or hate it. But these two albums are very similar. I agree with most reviewers that even though it is striving to be perfect pop, it didn't quite get there.

Is part of that because they finished prematurely? That Facebook interview earlier today certainly suggested that they finally got to a point where they were like "meh, good enough." I know they do that for every album, but still. Too much of this thing was left to producers and not the band--because the band was largely separated during the recording process. And totally agree. THIS ALBUM IS NOT AS FUN TO LISTEN TO AS IT WAS FOR THE BAND TO MAKE IT. Which says something about its quality. I would rather listen to MX to feel happy, frankly.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree. If there's something I have to give to AHFOD, is that it has made me appreciate MX a little more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now



×
×
  • Create New...