For many artists, there’s a pressure to mature their sound, and generate an older audience over time. For Coldplay, however, evolving their almost 20-year-old band seems to mean creating more youthful, poppy, and happier music.
Although they’ve become known as one of the biggest rock bands of the decade, their new album gives the impression that they’re ready to give up that title—A Head Full of Dreams is their most upbeat and radio-friendly record yet.
The new album feels like a major step up from their 2014 record Ghost Stories, which, despite having some elements worth mentioning, featured nine whiney songs that all sounded identical. A Head Full of Dreams is much more layered, and while the album exudes happiness, there are a few slower tracks that ultimately bring Coldplay back to their alt-rock roots.
Piano melodies have been swapped for incredible guitar playing—especially notable in the opening riff of the album’s single “Adventure of a Lifetime”. The addition of a choir in some tracks adds to the album’s euphoric, dreamlike quality.
There are a few collaborations on the record, but Coldplay overshadows their colleagues to a point that the songs feel like wasted potential. “Hymn for the Weekend”, which features Beyoncé, could have been the song of the year, but using one of the most talented and well-known female vocalists for a bit of background noise wasn’t Coldplay’s best decision.
The album’s interlude, “Kaleidoscope”, features a reading of 13th-century Sufi mystic Rumi’s poetry, and includes a short clip of President Barack Obama singing “Amazing Grace”. While the reasoning behind these choices are unknown, the result features emotional pieces that speak to everyone.
It has been said that this album was inspired by the band’s worldly travels in the last year, and this is definitely easy to see—the British band features a Persian poet, the American president, and their instruments, as seen on television recently, feature Hindi writing. The album is Coldplay’s most eccentric, and the band’s choice to let go of their typical sound in exchange for a more cheerful one undoubtedly works. The songs on their last album seemed restrained, but these new works have a surprisingly carefree vibe about them.
While the album can’t technically be called a comeback, A Head Full of Dreams truly sounds like one. This record is most reminiscent of Mylo Xyloto, one of the band’s most successful albums, and offers songs you can easily sing along to. Down to its bizarre music video for “Adventure of a Lifetime” and flowery cover art, this album is a celebration—Coldplay is back, and better than ever.