The 7th album from British pop group Coldplay released December 4 to both much enthusiasm and trepidation from fans. The single Adventure of a Lifetime surprised many as a departure from Coldplay’s general style, while others like Amazing Day seemed more in line with what one would expect.
Overall, both critical and fan reaction has been mixed, although enthusiastic discussion and debate is ongoing. I found the album to be a mixed bag, personally, with several songs I loved, nestled in between some overly peppy and slightly generic pop numbers (I’m looking at you, Army of One). Stylistically, I think it sounds like the love child of X&Y and Mylo Xyloto, with the big, echo-y sound of the former, and the bombastic optimism of the latter.
For me, the high points of A Head Full of Dreams include Up&Up, Amazing Day, and Fun, with other good moments in A Head Full of Dreams, Adventure of a Lifetime, and even a bit with Hymn for the Weekend. (It’s surprisingly catchy after a few listens, and although the lyrics are far from poetic [“I, I-I-I, I’m feeling drunk and high,”] they are, thank god, an improvement on Ghost Story’s lyrical clunker, Another’s Arms.”) I think Up&Up has anthemic potential and is best heard live, Amazing Day is sweet and grand and seemed written for wedding first dances, and Fun is arguably one of Coldplay’s saddest songs and features great vocals from Tove Lo that really round out the track.
I wanted to love A Head Full of Dreams and I did like it a lot. It seems like it is trying too hard, though, with a forced optimism that doesn’t suit Coldplay well, in my opinion, and weird choices like a track featuring President Obama reading Amazing Grace. I don’t regret buying it, and I hope to make it to one of the concerts in their world tour, although I’ll admit I definitely will look forward to hearing some of their older songs more.