The lead single from Coldplay's last and seventh studio album A Head Full of Dreams, "Adventure of A Lifetime," turned a lot of folks off immediately. For a a lot of people, when you think of Coldplay, you think of "The Scientist." Maybe that's super cliche and offensively typical, but is that not one of the most chilling, beautiful songs you have ever heard in your life? It's incredible! When you write a song like "The Scientist," it sets the standards pretty high for anything else you're going to write. The greatest Coldplay songs have the most hard-hitting moments, like in "Yellow," when Chris Martin sings "For you, I'd bleed myself dry," before the bridge, or in "Fix You," when the title alone is just as powerful as the song. Because of singles like these, Coldplay have become one of the most honorably emotive acts around. This might be a great responsibility to pile onto the English quartet, but with this great power in songwriting comes an equally as great songwriting responsibility, right?
Coldplay doesn't use its power on A Head Full Of Dreams in the way that lives up to their legacy, although it still is powerful..in a sense. A head full of dreams is undoubtedly what's behind the album, as it's loaded with atmospheric guitar riffs, colorful pop and funk bass lines, and accelerated hip-hop drumming that could make one feel like they're descending into some sort of blissful dreamland. The opener and title track for the album sets the mood immediately as Martin introduces the album with "Oh, I think I landed in a world I hadn't seen...Oh I think I landed/ where there are miracles at work." His distinguishable voice doesn't fail to soar, and each song is as anthemic as the last. These soaring vocals are paired with shining lyrical optimism that despite the album's December release, and essentially the symbol of Coldplay's demise, somehow sounds like a warm, summer day.
And it's easy to look forward to the many collaborations on this album, especially the appearance of none other than the Queen B herself, Beyonce. Her appearance is flawless (no pun intended) on "Hymn for the Weekend," in the addictive song that begins with a small Queen B choir. As the song develops, an irresistible 'boom-clap' beat enters along with a wildly catchy piano melody. Beyonce's talent is more than suitable for this song, and the blending of the two vocalists is more than graceful on Coldplay's version of a party anthem.
The album doesn't delve much deeper than dreamy, romantic optimism until the seventh track "Kaleidoscope." This song is a spoken word delivery of "The Guest House" by the famous 13th century poet, Rumi. Martin said in an interview that this song changed his life, claiming that the poem is about "every feeling that you have being a gift," and that "self-doubt and depression as well as all the joyful feelings are all useful if you can harness them." Now that's the Chris Martin you can be a fan of, and the poem is just as penetrating as he's described it:
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.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
The song ends with a distant Barack Obama singing "Amazing Grace" taken from his speech at the funeral for Clementa C. Pinckney, who was a victim of the June shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. This is an example of that emotive power Coldplay is so capable of, and this dreamy, chilling feeling is heard again in "Colour Spectrum," an atmospheric medley of the songs including "Kaleidoscope."
A Head Full of Dreams sounds like a dream you might never want to wake up from, but unfortunately, I don't think it's much more than that.