A Head Full of Dreams ... might be Coldplay's brightest album ever – an eagle's-wings whoosh of soaring melodies, happy dance beats and Martin at his most wide-eyed.
On the band's seventh album, A Head Full of Dreams, Chris Martin and company nervously creep onto the dancefloor, like boys at a junior high school prom, determined to unleash the boogie, white man's overbite be damned.
Under the stewardship of Chris Martin, Coldplay cheerfully embrace the cheese, ratcheting up both the sparkle and the sentiment so the album feels genuine in its embrace of eternal middle-aged clichés.
The album doesn’t always work, but more often than not it sounds enough like vintage Coldplay to satisfy both diehards and casual listeners.
A Head Full of Dreams might have been a poptimist masterpiece. Instead, it's just another Coldplay album, with all the baggage — both positive and negative — that entails.
Martin’s inability to write in anything other than cliches and generalisations feels like a small mercy rather than a black mark.
If there’s a wavelength on which Head is particularly powerful, though, it’s not easily apparent — it plays more like an unenthused rediscovery of past prizes than an album with its own specific code to be unlocked.
The majority of the track list is made up of songs that run far too long, have beyond cringe worthy concepts and lyrics or simply sound too unoriginal to stand out from the others.
Martin puts on the confetti-spewing Technicolor dreamcoat he discarded for 2014’s downer Ghost Stories and returns on the band’s 7th studio release with a rejuvenated spirit.
For all the record's eclecticism, Coldplay remain a band that put the "us" in "obvious," blowing up the simplest sentiments for maximum appeal.
So despite leading with a song called “Adventure of a Lifetime”, Dreams gives us none of that: no real risk, no real adventure, and surprisingly little fun or catharsis.
It’s clear that the group are in a kind of creative stasis, eager to attempt new ideas but afraid to ultimately break with the past.
A Head Full of Dreams ... sounds like a well-studied, rigid, demographic-conscious impression of Coldplay, empty as a consequence.