A Head Full Of Dreams


Parlophone, 2015


REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


It’s been a busy two years for Chris Martin and Coldplay. 2014 saw the release of the downbeat Ghost Stories and Martin’s divorce from actress and GOOPster Gwyneth Paltrow. 2015 saw the band being named to play Super Bowl 50 in 2016 and, a couple weeks later, the release of another album, A Head Full Of Dreams.

The Super Bowl selection is a bit puzzling. Yes, this band makes stadium-size pop, one of the few active bands who still does it on purpose, but the band’s songs tend to be well-arranged, slow, thoughtful, polite affairs that don’t really mesh with a crazed half-drunk football crowd scarfing down nachos and hoping for an exciting rock or pop show. Based on Dreams, though, the show might have some energy after all.

In short, this album is much the opposite of my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Ghost Stories in sound and lyric. Whatever Martin was feeling last year – whether from the divorce, middle age, or life in general – he seems to have conquered, because Dreams is joyful and celebratory. And if you’re wondering what a happy Coldplay sounds like…well, it’s a lot like Maroon 5, actually – and tell me “Hymn For The Weekend,” with underused guest star Beyoncé, isn’t an Adam Levine song for the stadiums.

In addition to the organic instruments, an emphasis on light disco beats adds a touch of fun to the music, particularly on “Adventure Of A Lifetime” and the throwback title track, which both owe some debt to Daft Punk and which should both be featured at the halftime show, if anybody knows what they’re doing. The patented Coldplay moments of soaring, sky-reaching harmonies are still here (“Amazing Day”), as are the piano ballads (“Everglow,” featuring background vocals from Paltrow, in what sounds like a couple making up and moving on).

The sentiments and sound coalesce on the seven-minute closer “Up & Up,” featuring Beyoncé and Noel Gallagher’s guitar and multi-tracked vocals galore, all leading to a blissful catharsis (if these song titles have given any indication, it’s that the whole album trades in joy and hope, if not necessarily happiness). Rumors abound that this could be Coldplay’s final album, and it would be quite poetic to turn the tables on their last six albums with one as optimistic, hopeful and modern as this one as their swan song. “Up & Up” certainly feels like goodbye, at any rate, as the credits fade.

Like any Coldplay album, there are some overblown moments, some mediocre moments and some gorgeous moments. There’s also an uncomfortable similarity of some songs to other current artists, one of those rare times when this band doesn’t sound like themselves but rather the Top 40 of 2014. Not that it’s not enjoyable, but it could be setting a bad trend if the band does continue forward. Point is, if you dislike Coldplay for their dour sound, you may enjoy this one; it doesn’t have the gravity of A Rush Of Blood or the sweep of Viva La Vida, but it sets its own mood and its own themes and stands apart because of it.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2015 Benjamin Ray and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Parlophone, and is used for informational purposes only.