It's back to Britain this week and a long-awaited return to Coldplay and their 2015 release A Head Full Of Dreams.
Following previous record Ghost Stories, to me, A Head Full Of Dreams felt like a breath of fresh air. There's this certain vibrancy that runs through the whole record with only the odd downpoint. For a band whose long-held value of togetherness has been their selling point, the harmony of A Head Full Of Dreams is what makes it one of their best releases to date. Sure, some might call it a little overzealous in its aim to please, but to me, that's all a part of Coldplay's charm and character.
The album's opener and title track sums this up perfectly. With its colourful and joyful sound, it's the sort of song that suits a summer's day with a load of your mates. Jonny Buckland's entrancing guitar riff is especially guilty of producing this brilliant sound, as is the infinitely happy vocal of Chris Martin, a man who always appears to be smiling on stage, which sounds as crisp as it did when the band formed at the back end of the millenium. Birds takes this happiness and runs with it faster than its predecessor ever could, offering endless opportunities for foot-tapping or head banging. This one suits a festival crowd down to the ground and even if you can't go to one right at this moment, Birds is certainly a tune to make you feel like you're at your very own Glastonbury. It seems fitting that one of the most festival-sounding tracks of the last two decades has come from the band who've headlined Glastonbury the most times.
It's only on the album's third track Hymn For The Weekend where it really gets going. Think of the previous two as a warm-up where compared to the swaggering piano and funky brass of this soon-to-be signature Coldplay tune. There's something especially euphoric about Hymn For The Weekend, not least thanks to the inclusion of Beyoncé, but also a rawer vocal from Martin that offers something different to his typical falsetto. It's an intoxicating listen, not least with the reminders of feeling "drunk and high." Even on the slower points of A Head Full Of Dreams, the optimism still remains - Everglow offers a McCartney-esque innocent ballad that suits Martin and his piano perfectly. There's this ethereal quality to it that other bands simply can't create. With the unity of the London foursome taking centre-stage over the course of the record, it's little surprise that Everglow offers a heartfelt beauty not seen since the likes of Keane's Hopes & Fears.
Towards it back-end, A Head Full Of Dreams moves the dream-pop up a gear for both Army Of One and Amazing Day. The former offers a opening likened to the powerful Paradise from 2011's Mylo Xyloto and much like that track, it seems like Army Of One has been curated wonderfully with its flowing verses and relaxing chorus. It's brimmed full of a great melody and a backing to die for. Sure, the lyrics might not be anything special, but it's the instrumental pieces where Army Of One excels. Amazing Day, to me at least, is the best track here. It's one of those songs where you're astounded at every turn it takes. It's the wistfulness of it that puts it head and shoulders above any other offering here, as well as the entire composition of it all. The lyrics are nothing short of marvellous, detailing memories with a loved one, and everything just fits together perfectly. Jonny Buckland's dreamy guitar, Guy Berryman's simple but effective bassline and Will Champion's rugged drums.
Up&Up, the final song on this eleven-track release, makes for a compelling listen, with its playful melody and optimistic lyricism. It's a nice close to A Head Full Of Dreams as it acts as a well-crafted summary of this album and what the band were aiming to achieve with such a bright-sounding collection of songs. Noel Gallagher lends his support on its second solo too and the whole ending is brilliantly colourful, making Up&Up's near seven minute duration well worth the listen.
A Head Full Of Dreams really is one of Coldplay's best and most diverse bodies of work and it's very easy to see why. There's certainly something for everyone here, and its pronounced vibrancy and happiness makes for an uplifting listen in these pretty humdrum times.
If you want to pick up a copy, I’ll leave an Amazon link here: https://amzn.to/2EscrCI
Or, if you’d prefer, here’s a Spotify link:
More musical magnificence to come next week!
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