Critical Voices: A Head Full of Dreams, Coldplay, Parlophone

December 8, 2015

Parlophone UK

If you were worried that Coldplay’s newest album would resemble the somber, surprisingly dark Ghost Stories released in 2014, fear not. A Head Full of Dreams is a complete turnaround from the band’s last album, which was released shortly after Chris Martin’s split with ex-wife Gwyneth Paltrow. The new album is perhaps Coldplay’s most vibrant one yet. It is also the band’s most overt attempt to step into the pop world, an attempt led by the production of Norwegian duo Stargate. The album’s musical style ranges from catchy dance beats to soaring melodies and showcases Martin returning to his usual optimistic self.

Coldplay has delved into uncharted territory. Their first single from this album, “Adventure of a Lifetime,” is a faster-paced, disco-beat song.  Martin even attempts to test out some R&B in the song “Army of One” when he sings along with the pulsing beat of the drum. The song “Birds” hooks you right away with thumping bass, and guitar carries the song along with soft lyrics that never overpower the beat. Although their sound has evolved, Coldplay still continues to provide uplifting lyrics. On the first track of the album, “A Head Full of Dreams,” Martin croons that “There are miracles at work.”  The album also possesses the fabulous crescendos that have come to define Coldplay’s music.   

Parlophone UK

A Head Full of Dreams finds strength in its use of collaborations. Beyonce provides backup vocals on the extremely catchy “Hymn for the Weekend,” and the uplifting final track of the album “Up&Up.”  Noel Gallagher also supports this final track with some amazing guitar work.  Even Gwyneth Paltrow herself makes an appearance, providing backup vocals on the farewell track “Everglow,” which possesses a softer, more ballad-like feel reminiscent of past songs such as “Us Against the World.” President Barack Obama’s rendition of “Amazing Grace” during the funeral of the pastor killed in the Charleston Church shooting is included in “Kaleidescope” and feels even more tender and meaningful than the other guest appearances on the album.

To most fans, this album does not resemble the guitar and drum-driven rock of Coldplay’s older albums. Some might argue that the band is conforming to the pop sound that defines much of music today. However, Coldplay has continually shown that they are unafraid to adapt and diversify their sound. With what could be their final album, Coldplay leaves listeners with the hope and gentle happiness that has defined their music since Parachutes, 15 years ago.

Voice’s Choices: “Birds,” “Army of One”

Caitlin Mannering
Caitlin studied Biology of Global Health and minored in English in the College. She is a former washed-up Leisure editor. It's unfortunate that her biology major will in no way relate to her dream job of working on Game of Thrones.

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