Any expectations that this new Coldplay album would be a return to form or a progressive step forward are smashed. There is nothing to connect with or enjoy on this album. It starts poorly and finishes dreadfully. It is without direction, intent and purpose. It fails to excite.
‘Always In My Head’ is a sluggish lazy track that goes nowhere fast. All you do is wait, anticipating the end. This is also true for the entire album. In ‘Magic’ Chris Martin’s once inspiring thoughtful lyrics are replaced with sub-standard introductory grammar with whinging melodies. The break up with Gwyneth Paltrow has reduced Chris Martins ability to express himself through words, rather, regressing to simple repetitive, melodically dull phrases. It’s as if he has nothing left to say.
‘Ink’ starts with some promise, though that is quickly dashed with a track that is fragmented and without identity. Ink is not sure where it belongs, maybe in the 80s on a Divinyls record. It seems they are attempting to show they have the depth of Kid A, Radiohead’s 2000 release though fall short as to be insulting. More layers are added to this song, and they only multiply an increasing disappointment.
The track ‘True Love’ presents an opportunity for Martin to hone his song writing abilities for artist such as Celine Dion, Faith Hill or Barbra Streisand. Garbage. The tone and character of the guitar at around 3 minutes is awful and intentional. This makes it all the worse.
By the time you make it to ‘Midnight’ you are wondering where the famous pitch correction has been, finally it emerges. 3 minutes in it starts to build, waiting with anticipation for…something, and that something that doesn’t come. Instead nothing, nothing really happens and it is not worth the wait. ‘Another’s Arms’ is framed in the same drab consistency as the rest of the album. There is something here that might be worth a closer listen. It works well, has a capturing rhythm and space in the melody. ‘Oceans’ is a stripped back, primarily acoustic guitar with vocals. Overall there is something lacking. It has been included to provide some diversity but falls short of something meaningful.
The opening piano of ‘A Sky Full of Stars’ leads you waiting for a dance beat that will take into a euphoric anthemic rave environment. This song will surely that be pumped throughout the clubs and discos in the world. Sure enough at 1:17 the dance beat raises its head. It is contrasted well with a modern contemporary acoustic riff around 1:40 this transitions back into the anthemic dance by 2:50. The final track ‘O’ provides the final lamenting brush stroke of enough.
The textures are disjointed, the character is that of a person with borderline personality disorder and the production has not captured whatever it is that it set out to achieve. There is no coherent plan for what Coldplay attempted to do with this album. Nor is there a purpose for each track, they are fragmented and there are no exceptions none are worth the time it takes to listen to. If the album sells it sells because of the brand Coldplay not the song writing or music.