Whatever I heard, I didn’t buy it, and figured they would just take an extended break. But my how time flies as it has been four years, though just two since (what felt like) a combined tour with 2014’s Ghost Stories wrapped.
Coldplay released some tracks off their eighth studio album (out Nov. 22) and upon first listen it sounded like more of the same from the last two I failed to appreciate. But then a few more songs were made public and high hopes began to emerge.
Everyday Life takes as big of a departure from their last two albums, as the last two albums did from the band’s first five. Do not expect the Coldplay that brought you such stellar songs like “Paradise,” “Viva La Vida,” “Speed of Sound,” “Clocks” and “Yellow” to return triumphantly. Everyday Life will leave you questioning the band’s motivation and longing for a bit more. Perhaps, a whole lot more once fully immersed in the new album and glimpses of light shine through as Coldplay takes you to another place you may or may not want to go.
To their credit Coldplay retains their original core of the band when singer Chris Martin who contributes on piano and acoustic guitar, lead guitarist Jonny Buckland, bassist Guy Berryman and drummer Will Champion started in 1997. They don’t rest on their laurels and bring a level of musicianship and craft that arguably excels beyond many of today’s bands. Unfortunately, they also hit it out of the park their first 15 years and fans want more of the same!
The double-album Everyday Life carries 16 songs and comes in just more than 50 minutes. Elements of their gushy melodic past freckle about, some songs sound more like filler and others clearly have a purpose for which you likely won’t understand, at least not for the time being. Considering the album’s length, let’s tackle song by song rather than inundate with long paragraphs that might confound you as much as Everyday Life might.
First Half of Everyday Life:
- Don’t let the opening track “Sunrise” put you off. Chalk it up as an introduction of sorts. Feel free to skip but if you like an orchestra that features a violin solo – have at it.
- “Church” comes across a bit dreary but harkens a bit back to their early days with Martin’s quiet vocals. The melody isn’t quite there though and the last half wonders some.
- “Trouble In Town” – not really sure what’s going on here
- “BrokEn” – a southern gospel number. Don’t be surprise if you start wondering about this album and where it’s headed.
- “Daddy” – just Martin and a piano. So sad and drippy. Not quite on par with “Fix You” but in the same vein. “Daddy” works OK at home but no doubt will be moving if they choose to play on the forthcoming tour. Martin’s vocals shine brightly here and offer a pretty big window into their success as a band
- “WOTW / POTP” – a really short song and all I can visualize is Martin sitting on a porch somewhere on a hot muggy night in the south.
- “Arabesque” – the first time I heard Arabesque I was ready to write-off the band. Then I listened again and again. I know I have previously stated the saxophone has no place in rock music, and whatever instrument played on this song that sounds like a saxophone might not even be a saxophone but it so works. Fully idiosyncratic, this wild and crazy song falls totally out of Coldplay’s comfort zone, gets better and better after every spin and I love it.
- “When I Need a Friend” – Wow, this sounds like the old church hymn “Holy Holy Holy.” Coldplay has certainly structured it this way. So far on the new album, Coldplay comes across like a band dabbling into religion. The song closes out with an elderly man speaking Spanish. (Loosely translated, my wife says it has something to do with being the butt of a joke.) Oookay.
First Half: C
Second Half of Everyday Life:
- “Guns:” Clearly an assault against gun violence (I suppose on their next album they will write “Knives”). It’s short and Martin drops some F-bombs. Not really much more to say. The acoustic guitar rocks a pretty good melody, though.
- “Orphans” has a great Berryman bass line throughout – so simple but upfront, it carries this song. “Orphans” ushers in typical upbeat Coldplay but the chorus sung by children annoys a bit and unfortunately I turned on Saturday Night Live for the first time in years a few weeks ago, just a few minutes before Coldplay came on to this song and the visual of the kids raising their hands in unison initially ruined the whole thing for me but optics aside, the song is catchy and grows on you pretty quick.
- “Èkó” – Quiet and contemplative, Èkó is a sweet song. Just Martin and a piano. I was sold once I heard the occasional meow of the cat in the background.
- “Cry Cry Cry” – This is just folksy adult contemporary with some added blues.
- “Old Friends” – Where is the rest of the band!?
- “بنی آدم” (“Children of Adam”) – A pretty instrumental that opens with just Martin on piano. Will be a great introduction to “Clocks” if played live, as long as they remove the added voice overs speaking the poem of the same name, but mostly it sounds like Musak.
- “Champion of the World” – When this song opens you just might mistake it as one of those iconic 80s tune you forgot. Slow and melodic, “Champion of the World” was mixed to highlight Martin’s vocals and it completely works. One of the best songs on the album.
- “Everyday Life” – Coldplay is back!
Second half: B
Coldplay sounds like a band either looking for meaning, trying out new things while riding their massive popularity wave or purposely changing direction from their past. They don’t shy away from engaging in social issues and don’t hesitate to use their microphone to make a statement (already they have plans to make the forthcoming tour environmentally friendly) but this album feels like it leans heavily in that proclamation direction while sacrificing some profound symphonic arrangements.
While admirable, and they can certainly do as they wish, most fans probably enjoy their music and melodies as a whole rather than taking a deep dive into the lyrics in order to change their life based on any messaging found and interpreted through their personal lens. At any rate, Everyday Life rises a bit from the last two albums thanks to a handful of dominate songs but much of this double album sounds like B-sides and demos left on the cutting room floor.
Overall Grade: B-
Everyday Life Track Listing:
- Trouble In Town
- WOTW / POTP
- When I need a Friend
- Cry Cry Cry
- Old Friends
- بنی آدم
- Champion of the World
- Everyday Life