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A Head Full Of Dreams

December 4, 2015 | Format: MP3

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Digital Booklet: A Head Full Of Dreams
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By William Merrill VINE VOICE on December 4, 2015
Format: Audio CD
Coldplay's new album *A Head Full of Dreams* is loaded with arena-ready anthems and ballads. It is expertly produced and elaborately packaged (although the handwritten lyrics in the CD booklet are essentially illegible). The sound is excellent throughout, and the musicianship is topnotch. However, the songs are often too similar to previous Coldplay music. If fans of the band rate this album five stars, I wonder if they think this album is actually as good as *Rush of Blood* or *Viva La Vida*? If not, it shouldn't be rated five stars.

After several nice-sounding but poppy & generic tunes, the album did come a bit closer to the sweet spot in the middle stretches, particularly on "Adventure of a Lifetime" (the best of the album's disco-ish cuts) and "Fun." There just aren't enough songs like those two.

This album features guest appearances by Beyoncé and Noel Gallagher. I think the appearance of Beyoncé on an album could be a very accurate gauge of when a serious rock band has jumped the shark.

I have really enjoyed Coldplay's music over the years, but I'm not going to automatically certify that everything they do is perfect.
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A Head Full of Dreams is a top-rate crowd-pleaser and a very accomplished album with more surprises, more life in it than the largely melancholy Ghost Stories. Some might be upset that they went in the Pop direction; but being Coldplay in one of their better guises, this is probably one of the very best "Pop" albums put out this year. If you want quintessential Coldplay, see Viva la Vida and Parachutes. But their talent and creativity is still very much alive.

Although I thought GS was largely overlooked and had two incredible tracks on it that ought to be on their Greatest Hits--Always In My Head and MIdnight--AHFOD sees them back in true form, emanating typical Coldplay brilliance (melody, emotion, catchy anthems bursting with empathy and solidarity) and a few typical Coldplay mistakes (some overproduction, bland lyrics in many songs).

Since Mylo Xyloto, Coldplay has often relied more on production than their actually very accomplished instrumentation (see Parachutes and tracks like 1:36, Chinese Sleep Chant, One I Love and Violet Hill if you think Coldplay was never a Rock band or that they don't know how to play their instruments far better than most "pop" acts). However, despite the sometimes excessive production on this album, their excellent instrumentation is completely present, particularly the catchy hooks of Jonny Buckland on guitar. Contrary to some opinion, I don't think Coldplay is becoming The Chris Martin Band anytime soon.

As always, the most touted songs on the album are some of the most cheesy and superficial (Hymn for the Weekend, Adventure of a Lifetime) while the far better tracks are hidden from the public: Birds, Everglow, Fun and Army of One absolutely make the album.
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Format: Audio CD
Coldplay's last album, 2014's "Ghost Stories" was dark and melancholic, arriving on the heels of lead singer Chris Martin's split from his wife. "A Head Full Of Dreams" is like bright sunlight shining through the grey clouds, from the colourful kaleidoscope-like artwork to the kaleidoscope-like sonics. It's laden with joy and fun and songs flirting with the dancefloor.

The disco-tinged title track opens the album, adorned with jangly guitars and anthemic chants of "Oh whoa oh". "Bird" is bouncy pop/rock. Beyoncé appears on "Hymn For The Weekend", an upbeat groove with flecks of hip hop beats.

Those seeking for the band that gave us songs like "Yellow" or "The Scientist" will be sorely disappointed as the band have broadened their sound picking from the pop stratosphere. The ballads that appear have an R&B edge, from the Bruce Hornsby-esque "Everglow" (which features Martin's former missus Gwyneth Paltrow on backing vocals), the enchanting "Fun" (featuring Tove Lo and "Woo hoos"), the woozy "Army Of One", the doo wop-ish "Amazing Day" (which sounds like something from "Grease"), and the brooding skittery hidden track "X Marks The Spot". Underneath it all, they are still Coldplay ballads.

The stomping Chic-esque "Adventure Of A Lifetime" is incredibly groovy, sounding like the kid brother to Daft Punk's "Get Lucky". Simply spectacular!

"Kaleidoscope" is a brief piano interlude featuring an interpolation of Obama singing "Amazing Grace" at the end of a poignant spoken segment, while "Colour Spectrum" is a brief ambient chiming interlude.
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After the remarkable GHOST STORIES album, the expectations for A HEAD FULL OF DREAMS were high. I am happy to say that COLDPLAY met and exceeded them. What a wonderful set of songs that only get better & better after listening to it over time. The entire album is uplifting and positive, which makes a long road trip go fast. The song "Up & Up" might be one my all-time favorite songs by the band. There are so many great tunes to enjoy. Thank you Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland, Guy Berryman, and Will Champion. Coldplay rocks.
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