Coldplay - A Head Full of Dreams - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Coldplay - A Head Full of Dreams

by Dan Clay Rating:7 Release Date:2015-12-04

Given that the best thing they’ve produced since 2008’s mournfully brilliant Viva La Vida was a Christmas single, yuletide is probably the most effective moment for Chris Martin et al to send their seventh release out in to the world, and into the stockings of many an unwitting Mum and Dad.

After 2014’s Ghost Stories allowed Martin to musically exorcise his split from darling Gwyneth, A Head Full of Dreams finds him still slightly reminiscing, but moving forward thanks to some unlikely dance beats, and collaborations with Noel Gallagher and Beyonce among others.

So let’s start with the bad news then, anyone hoping for a return to roots and the simple, mournful ballads which characterised the band on those first two albums, will be sadly forsaken here. In general there’s a lot of HFOD which continues Coldplay’s pop renaissance, complete with endless ‘Whoo-hoo’s and collaborations and barely an acoustic guitar in sight.

So while we contend with the beats of the title track and the ‘Hurts Like Heaven’- eqsue ‘Birds’ we have to remember that the Coldplay of old have come and gone and arena-pop/rock is the order of the day in the main here. But given the band grew a fanbase on the former it’s hard to work out generally who exactly HFOD is aimed at. Too old for the #Directioners and #Beliebers of this world and too young for the Dire Straits Dad-rock demographic, as you listen to some of the tracks here you begin to wonder who exactly buys a Coldplay album these days. Just who exactly is going to put ‘Hymn for the Weekend’ on their playlist without Beyonces warm tones?

Now for the good news though. Given last years Cat Power collaboration ‘Wish I Was Here’ hinted at a more piano-led future, the likes of ‘Everglow’ will please many a former fan, Gwyneth included, who provides a few scarcely audible backing vocals. Along with the more bombastic ‘Fun’ it’s Martin’s last chance to lament his loss.

But it’s really the likes of the delightfully toe-tapping ‘Army of Love’ and wonderfully melodic ‘50s-inspired ‘Amazing Day’ which will stick in the mind here as we race towards the end of what is basically a 9-track album bar the odd quote or two. And it’s only as we end on the europhic, sing-a-long ‘Up & Up’ that it finally emerges that Coldplay have in fact somehow morphed into The Lighthouse Family – just try listening to that intro without thinking of ‘Lifted’.

So while there’s nothing here to hark too much back to the band of old, there’s nothing too which suggests the band has sold themselves completely to the dark side of MOR arena-friendly pop. Certainly better than their last two albums, HFOD is fun if nothing else. Put it on at a Christmas party and you may find yourselves and others pleasantly surprised – perhaps listening to A Head Full of Dreams with a head full of drink helps.

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