Coldplay’s final album introduces new sound, recalls band’s history

Leah Dunne, asst. features editor

Thinking of my early childhood years, I can’t help but remember listening to Coldplay’s early 2000 songs, “Yellow,” “Fix You,” “The Scientist” and “Speed of Sound.” Lead singer Chris Martin’s smooth vocals, guitar riffs and percussive rhythm never failed as go-to comfort music, so to say I was surprised in early December hearing the band’s seventh and allegedly final studio album, according to Martin, A Head Full of Dreams, was an understatement, due to its deviation from their normal melodic tunes.

The first single released a month prior to the complete album, “Adventure of a Lifetime” was something that I had never heard from the band, but it was music that I enjoyed nonetheless. Martin’s swift lyrics cut between groove-like percussion, synth and guitar-picking reminded me of beats unique to Daft Punk’s 2013 Random Access Memories.

The album encompasses a variety of upbeat and dance cut tracks like “Adventure of a Lifetime” but did not stray away from the old-school acoustic and comforting hymns from albums prior. Tracks like “Amazing Day” and “Up and Up” surely brought me back to the similar Coldplay anthems of the mid 2000s, speaking encouraging words in contemplation of life and love.

Through minimal beats with both acoustic and alternative roots, in “Up and Up”, Martin’s lyrics, “Just need love, just need love when the going gets rough sayin’ don’t ever give up,” work to lift the spirits of the listener. Similarly, the band incorporated themes of their upbringing, urging their audience to share how they feel to one another, regardless of the consequences.

Martin illustrates this through the album’s track “Everglow” through his words, “Now I’m gonna miss you I know, so if you love someone you should let them know.” Additionally, the album does not fail to please fans of the pop genre, similarly as Coldplay did in their 2011 Mylo Xyloto, featuring eccentric tracks such as “Paradise” and “Princess of China”. Martin performs a collaboration with pop artist Tove Lo, entitled “Fun”. The song features smooth, calming acoustics in contrast to the earlier piece in 2011, “Princess of China”, featuring Rihanna. In this sense, Martin delivered a tranquil love duet, appealing to pop fans.

Undoubtedly, my favorite aspect of the band’s final album was their incorporation of song breaks, as seen in Viva La Vida, Death and All of His Friends in 2008 and Ghost Stories in 2014. Song breaks have been used to skillfully divide one single song essentially into two different pieces. In the past, the song would be centered on a dreary and slum-like conflict, slow and steady with the song break serving as a change in tone and feel, delivering an ending with differentiation from the start.

This aspect of Coldplay’s writing was initially confusing and not something that I truly enjoyed to listen to until I heard their track “Army of One” on the new album. The song features a percussion-dominated intro with the addition of sudden and abrupt riffs illustrating Martin’s efforts to express himself fighting for what and whom he believes in. About half way through the six-minute piece, the song, which sounds like it is coming to an end, takes a turn from a smooth, soft-spoken tone to harsh percussion. The song transitions with a change in tone; a percussion beginning introduces Martin as he begins to claim his defeat against the “army of one” he was previously referring to prior to the change in tone.

The use of song breaks and drastic change in themes is what drew me to enjoy this album as a whole. Sure, I have individual favorites that anyone will have, but I truly believe that in their final album, Coldplay delivered a diverse album both musically, conceptually and emotionally. They managed to incorporate themes from their past six studio albums and 17 years as a band, creating one album to unify it all and pleasing audiences coming from all different tastes of music. A Head Full of Dreams certainly feels like a dream, drawing you into each song with grace and purpose.