When I heard Coldplay’s first official album Parachutes in the early 2000s, I felt I had discovered something new. The easy-going yet intricate riffs, the patient percussion and Martin’s heartfelt refrain on the album had felt like an intimate sonic space, passively cathartic. Almost a decade-and-a-half later, the sensitive band has grown up to be a flamboyant super group. Their new album, A Head Full of Dreams, has all the elements of today’s popular mainstream ‘sounds’ — you can hear aspects of edm, pop-funk, 21st century disco sound and the remnants of Coldplay’s formulaic style.
To listeners who warmed up to the band’s earlier sound, A head Full of Dreams (also Coldplay’s last album together) is a bit of an anti-climax. Once again, it can be blamed on the unfortunate cliché of the music industry — fame often kills talent and spontaneity. Not to say that the Coldplay bunch is lacking in talent, technically, they have indeed improved a great deal. But, the band has become more mainstream than ever, which, in classic ‘spirit of rock’ terms, is simply ‘not cool’.
“It’s only when they get back to being ‘Coldplay’ and not the ‘Chris Martin Band’ that they sound good,” said a post below the review of their new album. Leadman Chris Martin has become more of the celebrity in the band, which is all ok, but it may have come at the cost of a collective expression that initial albums like Parachutes, A Rush of Blood to the Head and X&Y seemed to embody. He (Chris) is now the ‘star’ of many collaborative videos across genres, much like Adam Levine from Maroon 5.
The new album is Martin at his most ‘wide-eyed’. It is persistently optimistic in its themes and sound and has ample collaborations with some of the most mainstream artists today such as Beyonce. The result is that today, Coldplay has more fans than it ever had who have made it a ‘super group’. But, the way the market and the band’s image have shaped its sound, is rather unfortunate leading to more predictability than ever. The refreshing ‘rush of blood to the head’ has sadly led to a band with ‘a head full of itself’.