Coldplay is one of the few bands that I still actively chase since I began exploring music in primary school. My first album of theirs was their 2011 electronic rock album Mylo Xyloto and to say that I was excited about that release is an understatement. I recall having an extended throwback period where I listened to nothing but old Coldplay jams (unpopular opinion but Viva la Vida is not the best track from Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends). I read every music article and watched all interviews about the band in the days leading up to the release of Mylo Xyloto. I even rushed to the nearest music store to get my hands on the CD (gosh those days where you would save up to get a CD…). So yeah I might consider obsessed with the band then.
Despite my excitement and the colourful marketing and publicity the label has put behind this album, I was slightly disappointed by the sounds of their fifth album. Chris Martin’s voice was too auto-tuned in Hurts like Heaven and there were lots more electronic sounds as compared to their previous albums. Moreover, they had a collaboration with R&B singer Rihanna – although still produced a melodious tune was not very usual among rock artists. Mylo Xyloto only marked the beginning of the band’s journey to pop rock. This experimentation and fusion with electronic music technology continued for two more albums until their 2019’s Everyday Life.
For fans of Coldplay’s 2008 Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, this is the album for you. Personally consider it a sequel to that war-themed album, Everyday Life speaks about various sociopolitical issues that well, is embedded in our everyday life.
TRACK BY TRACK
The opening track Sunrise was, well, as its name implies the beginning of something, perhaps a new day of “everyday life”. The tempo is slow and the mood invokes a sense that there is something greater looming out there waiting to be discovered (I suddenly thought of the Jurassic Park…). And suddenly, we have a religious-charged Church where Chris Martin sings of a religious man and his passion for his beliefs.
The whole mood turned upside down with the sombre Trouble in Town which also featured snippets of a racial profiling in America and a rendition of “Jikelele” at the end. And if you hear very closely to the last few seconds, you can hear a man’s heartbeat. While I applaud the band’s attempts to make a statement on racial injustice, I was not drawn to the music of it. Jonny’s playing, accompanied by Will’s drumming, at the bridge just seemed too chaotic for my ears.
Consistent with the gloomy-and-hopeful song arrangements in Everyday Life, BrokEn uplifts the sombre-mood left by the third track. With a back-up gospel-choir and lyrics that go “Oh Lord come shine your light on me”, the fourth track of the album does bring glimpse of hope to humanity.
As someone who has actually read the biographies of the band, I would consider myself someone who has a considerable amount of knowledge of the band’s inspirations. And Pink Floyd was definitely not one of them. Nonetheless, the fifth track Daddy made me think of “When the Tigers Broke Free” and the entire “The Wall” concept album by progressive English rock band.
With only Chris’ voice and an acoustic guitar strumming in the background, WOTW/POTP is like a response to the emotionally painful scenario to its predecessor. Not sure if any of you feels the same way when you hear this piece but I imagine a child sitting and singing on the veranda, undisturbed by the madness and havoc surrounding him. The absence of drums and the bass alongside Chris’ soft voice produce a peaceful yet powerful state of mind.
As though Coldplay has not made the point any more clearer, we have Arabesque which reminds us just how people are actually no different from one another as we “share the same blood”. Geographical and socio-cultural boundaries do not separate us. Instead, Coldplay believes that music is the lingua franca that unites us all. Gotta say I love the saxophone solo (performed by Nigerian musician Femi Kuti) and the ‘marching-style’ rhythm in this song.
The first half of the double album came to an end with When I Need a Friend, a call for someone or some divine intervention to redeem oneself.
The second half of the album – Sunset – kicks off with an up-tempo Guns, a satirical work aimed at governments for failing to stop gun violence, mitigate climate change effects and providing education for children. Not sure about you but this song does bring back some memories of the Mylo Xyloto days in particular Major Minus.
One of the best elements of the album’s leading single – and the best track on the album – is that it features heavily of Guy’s bass. Fans have often commented on how bassist Guy Berryman is often overshadowed by gutiarist Jonny Buckland. With Everyday Life, we finally got the opportunity to hear more from this Scottish bassist. Orphans is an unusual track. As clarified by frontman Chris Martin, this song is about refugees and migrants who are driven out from their homes. Yet accompanying the lyrics is an optimistic tune and just maybe, this is the spirit that we need in a time of crisis.
We are soon greeted with Chris’ dreamy voice and a simple guitar strumming in Èkó. For those who don’t know, the title refers to the city of Lagos, Nigeria in Yoruba language.
And hate me all you want but I can’t help but be reminded of Justin Bieber’s U Smile and The Righteous Brothers’ Unchained Melody in Cry, Cry, Cry. The 12th track of the album samples heavily from 1963 soul music Cry Baby and it is my second favourite track. We then come to Old Friends, a slow and nostalgic musical composition about well, old friends.
The first two minutes of بنی آدم (Farsi for Bani Adam) started as an instrumental track with only piano and later the electronic guitar. Otuto Nke Chukwu serves as a bridge to Champion of the World where we are once reminded of the old Coldplay days (Jonny’s bright guitar sounds + a backing vocal + very little of the bass).
This double-album then concludes with its titular track that just makes us ponder how and whether is it even possible for people to live harmoniously.
Overall, Coldplay’s eighth album (wow 8 already?) is an experimentation and a good one at that. The band took a bold swerve from its roots in alternative rock and fused with various world music and musicians/poets to create this great work. The album generally takes a more calm and toned down approach in Sunset. We hear less electronic guitars, with more emphasis given to the piano, vocals and acoustic guitar. It is, of my opinion, less angsty too lmao. I do hope the band stays in this style for their future albums.