The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Iain Shed­den

A Head Full of Dreams Cold­play Par­lophone/Warner

One might have thought that af­ter the ex­cru­ci­at­ing purge of all things Gwyneth on Cold­play’s last out­ing, the hugely dis­ap­point­ing Ghost Sto­ries, singer Chris Martin and Ms Pal­trow would re­main un­cou­pled on its fol­low-up, the some­what chirpier A Head Full of Dreams. Yet here, on track four, the vaguely Celtic bal­lad Ever­glow, Pal­trow lends her voice and her lyric — “How come things move on / How come cars don’t slow” — in barely dis­cernible fash­ion on a song that sug­gests love will not tear the couple apart com­pletely. Else­where, mostly, Martin is in buoy­ant mood. The open­ing ti­tle track has all of the Cold­play char­ac­ter­is­tics set to 11 — pi­ano bed, Edge-like gui­tar and Martin whoop­ing up a storm on an an­themic cho­rus de­signed to light up 50,000 wrist­bands in sta­di­ums around the world. Cold­play didn’t tour on the back of Ghost Sto­ries, but the band ap­pears to be primed again for global sat­u­ra­tion with this al­bum. Cer­tainly there are a few typ­i­cally grandiose pop an­thems to add to its live ar­moury on A Head Full of Dreams. The most no­table of th­ese is the cur­rent sin­gle Ad­ven­ture of a Life­time, a de­li­cious, bouncy pop song driven by a funky bassline and Jonny Buck­land’s in­sis­tent, noodly West African gui­tar mo­tif. Buck­land’s sig­na­ture gui­tar har­mon­ics were largely ab­sent from Martin’s mis­er­able out­pour­ings on Ghost Sto­ries. Here they re­turn in abun­dance, not least on Birds, an up-tempo melange of Guy Ber­ry­man’s sturdy bass, Buck­land’s swirling at­mo­spher­ics and Martin do­ing his aching falsetto in the cho­rus. It also has a pass­ing re­sem­blance to Is This How You Feel? by the Prea­tures. A Head Full of Dreams was pro­duced by Rik Simp­son ( Ghost Sto­ries, Mylo Xy­loto) and Nor­we­gian duo Star­gate (Tor Her­mansen and Mikkel Erik­sen), who don’t tam­per too much with the fa­mil­iar tem­plate. There are some sur­pris­ing guest ap­pear­ances, not least Pres­i­dent Barack Obama. Part of his speech at the fu­neral of Charleston shoot­ing vic­tim Cle­menta C. Pinck­ney form the ba­sis of two short tracks, Kalei­do­scope and Colour Spec­trum, al­though it’s hard to fathom how th­ese sit in the con­text of the al­bum. Also lend­ing her voice is Bey­once, who joins Martin on the funky Hymn for the Week­end, while Noel Gal­lagher lends his gui­tar chops to the op­ti­mistic Up & Up. The mid-paced Fun, fea­tur­ing Swedish singer Tove Lo, is for­lorn, even with one of the Martin hands-in-the-air “woo-hoo” mo­ments.

While A Head Full of Dreams has set Cold­play back on course af­ter the folly of its pre­de­ces­sor, it doesn’t do quite enough to reestab­lish the band as the cham­pi­ons of melodic pop-rock they once were.

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