A Head Full of Dreams is Coldplay’s seventh and possibly final album. Lots of rumours. It follows the dreadfully sappy Ghost Stories , written primarily in response to lead singer Chris Martin’s much publicized divorce from gobby actress Gwyneth Paltrow.
A Head Full of Dreams seems to be Chris Martin’s 180 degree turn in the hurly burly world of love and the single man. He seems much happier now. He shares his happier feelings on the electronic stage with Beyoncé, Noel Gallagher and Georgian concert pianist Khatia Buniatishvili. Coldplay left the superb production team of Brian Eno and Jon Hopkins for Stargate, the Norwegian record producing and songwriting team, composed of Tor Erik Hermansen and Mikkel Storleer Eriksen. They produce Katy Perry and Rihanna, among others.
The change shows here. Gone are the inspired influences of Eno and electronic technowiz Hopkins. Here, we have U2 light. Shouty pianos and lots of reverb on the anthems. But the real problem is not the production or the performances (Chris Martin is a hell of stage presence and good singer/musician) but the quality of the songwriting. Yes, streets ahead of Ghost Stories, but pale in comparison with earlier recordings.
It starts upbeat enough with A Head Full of Dreams, Birds and Hymn for the Weekend, then slows down for a three chord ballad Everglow, which sounded like it went on forever but with zero glow. Martin and the boys can compose wonderful songs that take you to unknown places melodically and harmonically with great hooks and fantastic energy (think Every Teardrop is a Waterfall and Viva La Vida), and we get taste of those qualities here with Adventure of a Lifetime. But, it’s too little, too late.
Fun (with singer Tove Lo) is not much of it for the knowledgeable ear. Repetition of a simplistic (not simple) melody ‘Didn’t we have fun’. I thought I was back on the beach with Annette and Frankie. And singing in thirds ad nauseum with the girl on the bottom — is that the best you can summon, Chris? Maybe a 7th, 9th or 13th with her on top?
With Dreams, I was hoping for inspiritus from earlier albums. It’s a pleasant accompaniment to an afternoon reading when the rain’s coming down. It won’t make you think, pine or soar. As such, maybe this should be the last album before they get the name Coldplay[edout].