Coldplay – Everyday Life: The band’s most ambitious work to date
Everyday Life is Coldplay’s most ambitious work to date. And a grower. For the first time, the British four-piece ventures into the realm of double albums, with 16 new songs that come four years after A Head Full of Dreams. The band’s psychedelic visuals and pop sounds have turned black and white, infinite shades of grey characterising this release.
Chris Martin writes about religion, global social issues and politics. Musically, it’s their greatest effort to do something different. It’s still Coldplay, of course: whether in lead single Orphans or gloomy piano ballad Daddy, they still embody their trademark attributes: a stadium-filling chorus (the former), a personal story that everyone can relate to (the latter), and the fact that it’s music that can appeal to millions of people.
Maybe the problem is that sometimes they try too hard to do something alternative. A gospel number like BrokEn feels completely out of place, while Guns, which deals with gun control, is just not really their realm. At times, though, these attempts are very successful. The rock-jazz fusion on Arabesque, with Femi Kuti (the saxophonist son of afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, whose message “music is the weapon of the future” features on the song) and Belgian rapper Stromae, is one of the true highlights of the album.
Everyday Life opens with a striking instrumental, Sunrise. It’s a beautiful string composition – produced by long-time collaborator Davide Rossi, the violinist behind the iconic Viva la Vida – that sends a clear message: this record will go in a different direction (like Life in Technicolor did on Viva).
The best material comes at the beginning of the first part and at the end of the second. Church is rhythmically and harmonically a gem, and arguably the best song from this album. Trouble in Town follows, and the heavenly and sophisticated delicacy of the previous track turns into a worrisome condemnation of street oppression by the police towards people of colour. Halfway through, a recording of a Philadelphia officer harassing a black motorist in 2013 brings up the tension before an instrumental climax.
Champion of the World champions (excuse the pun) a riff from Los Angeles, Be Kind by the late Scottish singer-songwriter Scott Hutchison (who published it under the pseudonym Owl John). While the song suffers if compared to the “original” – it lacks its intense, honest, and poetic emotional punch – it’s a classic Coldplay uplifting midtempo. Everyday Life ends with the title track: back to the strings of the opener, an Amsterdam-like piano kicks in and Martin sings of life, fraternity, peace. Structure- and style-wise, we are back in the 90s, but it’s an exquisite piece of music.
Coldplay have always wanted to be the band that sing for those who feel lonely and misunderstood – as well as the world’s greatest act, who can top every chart, sell out stadiums and deliver some of the most memorable festival slots in front of infinite crowds. This double-edged sword they’ve been playing has now become sharper than ever before.
Filippo L’Astorina, the Editor
Everyday Life is released on 22nd Nov 2019. For more information, visit Coldplay’s website here.
Watch Coldplay performing Everyday Life live in Jordan here: