Everyone has a favorite Coldplay song. The success of what is arguably one of the best rock bands of our generation comes from their ability to build connections between people. The band has an uncanny ability to tap into unexpressed feelings and emotions and express humanity’s shared aspiration for peace and love.
Over the years, Coldplay has toyed with a variety of sounds, making it nearly impossible to tie the band down to a specific genre. In their debut album, Parachutes, their soft rock style was established with songs like “Yellow” and “Sparks,” songs which cemented the band’s name. Their more sentimental side was explored in A Rush of Blood to the Head, and the band reveled in the sheer musicality of songs in Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends. Electronic influences were a staple of Mylo Xyloto, and A Head Full of Dreams found Coldplay comfortably adopting a stadium rock sound.
Despite the impressive discography of the band, silence has been the most common thing heard from Coldplay for the past four years. Their 2015 album A Head Full of Dreams seemingly appeared to be the band’s final project, an idea that was further fueled by the production of a documentary spanning the band’s career. Last month’s announcement of their upcoming album, however, completely shattered such theories.
Everyday Life is Coldplay’s latest release. It is a double album, with the first half titled Sunrise, the second Sunset. The work bounces between genres and themes. It delights in experimentation and sees the band collaborating with choirs, incorporating audio from a police encounter, and infiltrating the breaks between lyrics with world music and samples of speakers in various languages to further emphasize Coldplay’s global perspective.
The album opens up to the elegant and calming “Sunrise” that lays the foundations of the album. Violins take the lead, creating a serene atmosphere that evokes the feeling of a new day. It is emblematic of a fresh beginning, a new chapter for the band.
“Church” is the first proper song of the album. Lead vocalist Chris Martin welcomes the listener back to his soothing vocals with a discussion of the interconnectivity between love and worship. Swelling strings and a sample of a singer vocalizing in Arabic make Coldplay’s world music influence entirely evident.
Coldplay abruptly changes topic and sound with “Trouble in Town,” a piece that includes the audio of a now-disgraced Philadelphia police officer amid a racial profiling incident. It speaks soberly of injustice and is composed of a small voice paired with competing piano melodies and the pounding chords of an electric guitar. The next song, “BrokEn” takes an entirely different route, pairing a soulful staccato piano with a gospel choir that is rather stripped in comparison to the rest of the songs.
The three succeeding songs are blended together by different samples. “Daddy” closes to the crisp sound of chirping birds that carries over into “WOTW/ POTP.” The latter fades with the inclusion of the city street bustle that begins “Arabesque,” the first big band moment of the album. Horns blare as Martins sings of his desire for peace. Though humans have differences, we are all part of the same family like “two raindrops in the same sea.”
“When I Need a Friend” begins with a monophonic choir melody that slowly builds in harmonies and concludes with audio of a Spanish speaker discussing the tangible possibility for global peace. It acts as the conclusion of the first part of the album.
The second side of Everyday Life opens to “Guns,” a hearty folk track different from anything Coldplay has produced before. It stands out from the rest of the album. Martins talks snidely of the notion of fighting fire with fire as he addresses America’s gun violence epidemic.
“Orphans” juxtaposes with the preceding song by returning the band to a more familiar tone. The song stresses the commonality of humans, how at the end of the day we all wish to laugh with our friends. This message acts as a common thread that unites the entire album. The band recognizes the hurt and pain in the world and contrasts it to what they argue are the silver linings of humanity: love, friendship, and peace. “Cry Cry Cry” is about learning to dance in the rain with the person you love. “Old Friend” is a gem that illustrates the never-ending nature of friendship.
Everyday Life concludes with a self entitled track that encapsulates the message of the entire work. For all the troubles going on in the world, people are not alone in facing them. We are connected more in our commonalities than we are torn apart by our differences. As the song fades out, Martin pleads, “Gotta keep dancing when the lights go out / Hold tight for everyday life.”
Featured Image by Parlophone Records