I like Coldplay. Apologies to my fellow reviewers for shattering our indie credibility, but I have to be honest. The atmosphere of misguided and confused pretension surrounding Coldplay has always perplexed me. Throughout their entire career they’ve at least tried to innovate in some way with each release, from sparse pop-rock of X&Y to the lavish orchestral arrangements of Viva La Vida to whatever they were trying on Mylo Xyloto. This is more praise than I can give most artists who’ve been around for the same length of time *cough* Noel Gallagher *cough*, and judging by the first single “Adventure of a Lifetime” I could expect something entirely different again in “A Head Full of Dreams”.
The title track is an absolute party anthem, complete with shuddering bass and sparkling guitars. It’s about as danceable as I’ve heard Coldplay ever be, and manages to retain the kind of grandiosity that worked so well on Viva La Vida. The pace increases on “Birds”, a song that really doesn’t take off until the chorus, and even then remains pretty lacklustre. To be entirely honest it has filler track written all over it. “Hymn for the Weekend” is the most inappropriately named song on the album, as well as the most wasteful in terms of talent. Any song that resigns Beyoncé to essentially backing vocals and a single token verse isn’t worth listening to, especially if it’s as bland as this one is. The incredibly saccharinely named “Adventure of a Lifetime” follows, and briefly raises the quality to that of the title track. It’s the same vibrant dance style, and admittedly it’s the best song on the album. It’s one of the only two good ones actually…
There are in truth two spirited pop songs on this album, and everything else is a sparse, insipid ballad. “Fun” is perhaps the worst offender, but then again it does feature Tove Lo so I couldn’t have expected anything else. “Kaleidoscope” takes itself far more seriously than it deserves to as does “Colour Spectrum” and “Army of One” features the most annoying vocal sample I’ve heard all year.
Overall it certainly isn’t anywhere near as bafflingly bad as Mylo Xyloto, but it really isn’t very good. At all. To raise the bar so high on the single and title track and to then not even match the tempo of those tracks is a strange decision to make, and one that leaves “Head Full of Dreams” feeling slow and mundane. I would however recommend listening to the title track and the single.