On Coldplay’s last album we had “A Sky Full of Stars”. Now we have A Head Full of Dreams. What next, A Gut Full of dysbacteriosis? Coldplay are one of those bands whose songs are so positive and uplifting that they have me reaching for the Mylanta almost every time I hear them. And if you’re searching for answers or in the mood for something profound and intellectual, then this LP is certainly not for you. Because Chris Martin just happens to be one of those songwriters who even when he does express his deepest wounds he still comes off as shallow. By the way, the album cover is one of the worst I’ve ever seen, even by their standards. Some software generated rubbish that I wouldn’t hang in a public toilet, lest it offend the clientele.
We open with the title track, which is yet another digitally treated pop song processed through artistically constipated computers. Martin’s vocals are clean and effective, like a swig of Listerine, 99.9% guaranteed to kill all germs and human emotion. “Birds” is an improvement of sorts, but that’s not really saying much. True, there are some nice moments, yet not so vital that it has etched itself into my long term memory, nor short term for that matter. “Hymn for the Weekend” finds Martin and company crossing over into rap and R&B, albeit in an extremely nauseating way. “Everglow” has Martin on piano expressing his emotions, in a manner that gives one the impression he’s just run out of herbal toothpaste.
The slick disco of “Adventure of a Lifetime” is all repetitive beats with a chorus that is as dull as dishwater. “Fun”, featuring Swedish singer Tove Lo, is about as predictable as it gets, and obviously a nod to his ex-wife Gwyneth Paltrow, to show that there are no hard feelings; and that he still eats vegetarian every once in awhile. It’s all pretty banal if you ask me. Now if “Kaleidoscope” is Coldplay’s idea of “Fitter, Happier” then who are they supposed to be kidding. It’s a short, conceptual piece to be sure, but nothing especially thought provoking. And thank heavens for that, because anything even remotely insightful might see Martin burst a brain vessel.
“Army of One” contains more of those anthem-oriented lyrics that are certain to spark-up the masses in stadiums the world over, while “Amazing Day” is a life after divorce number that is so monotonous I thank God that Man invented the fast forward button. “Colour Spectrum” is as facile as they come, like a beige equivalent of Radiohead, with a little Jeff Buckley thrown in for good measure. The digitally treated diarrhea of “Up&Up” has Noel Gallagher on guitar along with Merry Clayton (who sang backing vocals on The Rolling Stones “Gimme Shelter”), yet not even they can save the closing track from the dunghill of mediocrity, because no matter how sincere Martin himself may be, it takes more than a modicum of serious thought to create great art.
When all is said and done, A Head Full of Dreams is about as welcome as a long weekend of dysentery. And while no doubt Coldplay will manage to rake in a few more millions of dollars from all those pop-loving minions who of course love nothing better than to spend huge sums of money just to be part of the entire mind-numbing experience, waving their arms in the air, and pretending to be as one, I’m glad to say I won’t be one of them.