It isn’t obvious whether this album will be the band’s last, but nevertheless they have called upon a number of big names including Beyoncé, Noel Gallagher, and even a sample of President Barack Obama singing ‘Amazing Grace’. Each collaboration offers a different musical style as the band have tried hard to make this album stand out, even if some of the slower songs offer little to the album.
Coldplay have experimented with many different genres over the years, but funk and disco is not something they’ve previously explored in great depth. These genres feature prominently in ‘Adventure of a Lifetime’, an uplifting disco-rock number that instantly draws you in with vocal samples and funky riffs. We also see similar elements in the album’s title track, but with a quicker pace and greater guitar presence representing a step forward in their sound.
‘Hymn for the Weekend’ sees the band experimenting with R&B, the smooth vocals of Beyoncé Knowles working exceptionally well. ‘Army of One’, a touching and upbeat song, also takes inspiration from this genre. However the hidden track, ‘X Marks the Spot’ is somewhat lacking. Instrumentally, this song doesn’t feel like a Coldplay song, and seems to be trying too hard. The lyrics are weak, failing to inspire or conjure up the emotion that other songs do.
While we hear many new and exciting ideas on this album, other songs see Coldplay sticking to their norm. Fast-paced track,‘Birds’ bears resemblance to the likes of Mylo Xyloto’s ‘Hurts Like Heaven’ while ‘Everglow’, ‘Fun’ and ‘Amazing Day’ are somewhat derivative of their early ballads, and drift by without leaving a strong impression.
With this album Coldplay have proven that they are willing to step outside of their comfort zone. However, there are some parts of the album where they try too hard and, as good as these songs are, we’ve heard this sort of thing before. Nonetheless, if A Head Full of Dreams does end up being their swansong, there are a number of songs that Coldplay fans will remember fondly for many years to come.