Music

Coldplay goes experimental

New wave: Chris Martin of Coldplay performing during the Global Citizen Festival G20 concert.

New wave: Chris Martin of Coldplay performing during the Global Citizen Festival G20 concert.  

Somewhat hesitantly, I decided to play British band Coldplay’s new album Everyday Life. After totally loving their first two albums Parachutes and A Rush Of Blood To The Head, I found their later work rather inconsistent, trying to stick to a formula. Yes, there were brilliant songs like ‘Fix You’, ‘Speed Of Sound’, ‘Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall’ and ‘Hymn For The Weekend’, and their Mumbai show in 2016 was well-received. But because of a self-created mindblock, I didn’t expect much from their latest effort.

Pleasant surprise

I was misguided. The first thing I observed about Everyday Life is that it’s a complete departure in sound. The band has moved away from its trademark alternative rock, post-Britpop style to incorporate more global sounds, with some tracks having African, Middle Eastern and a dash of Sufi influences. The emphasis is more on producing solid songs, rather than stadium-friendly rock. The subjects revolve around war, crime, nostalgia, equality and religion, and one finds doses of gospel, jazz and new age. Indeed, for a band which started off on a positive note, and had its ups and downs, it required guts to experiment. Interestingly, this is also first Coldplay album to get a ‘Parental Advisory’.

What Everyday Life has in common with Coldplay’s earlier discography is Chris Martin’s vocal style. He’s in supreme form on ‘Daddy’, a gooseflesh-inducing piano-backed track which talks of someone missing his father, and the title song, where he asks, “What kind of world do you want it to be, Am I the future or the history?”

Sonic treasures

Divided into two parts ‘Sunrise’ and ‘Sunset’, the album has an assortment of sonic gems. With its vibrant horns and foot-stomping pulse, ‘Arabesque’ peps up the tempo. ‘Guns’ is a satire on America's weapons policy, and ‘Trouble In Town’ talks of racism and police atrocities. ‘Champion Of The World’ is about the power of dreaming. ‘Broken’ and ‘When I Need A Friend’ have a gospel touch.

While Martin’s keyboards are first-rate (check out the opening of ‘Children Of Adam’), guitarist Jonny Buckland, bassist Guy Berryman and drummer Will Champion display versatility. A highlight is the use of back-up chants, especially on ‘Orphans’ and ‘Church’.

Despite its technical brilliance and the fact that it pushes boundaries, Everyday Life may not be everybody’s cup of tea. But that’s a normal reaction to blatant experimentation - either one accepts it or one doesn’t. Many popular bands like to try out new things. U2 did it with Pop, and Linkin Park with A Thousand Suns. The trick is to listen to such efforts with an open mind.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 3:15:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/coldplay-goes-experimental/article30588766.ece

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