Updated: Dec 3, 2019
Coldplay have often been the target of ridicule, perhaps due to their music being slightly middling at times. Still, they've garnered huge success and unlike many bands of their era (see the Stereophonics review from a few weeks ago), they've managed to maintain it.
Their latest offering, however, is something quite different. Among other things, this album features jazz-fusion, sociopolitical lyrics, and in what is a first for Coldplay, profanity. Though there are flashes of the Coldplay you know and love, this is, for the most part, a different beast.
Their willingness to experiment is welcome. Sometimes there is only so much you can do with a formula and it's always good to see bands branching out and furthering their horizons. Coldplay certainly do so here, with songs such as 'Arabesque' (a fantastic jazz-fusion song which may actually make Coldplay cool), 'Cry Cry Cry', and 'BrokEn' (which is led by a choir).
The experimentation on this album brings with it many advantages. Not only do Coldplay offer something different to most of their previous material, it actually makes the few more standard Coldplay songs refreshing to hear. After a few good songs of differing styles, sometimes it was nice to hear the Coldplay we all know well again. But what they've shown on this album is that they can be much more than what they are generally perceived to be.
With all that said, it doesn't all work. The main issue with the album is that there are too many songs which are just essentially acoustic guitar and vocals ('WOTW/POTP', 'Guns', 'Èkó' and 'Old Friends' all fit into that category). Though none of these are bad songs in isolation, it feels like too many for one album. 'Old Friends' in particular doesn't really add much to the album, and feels quite filler. 'When I Need a Friend' feels a bit useless (one choir song is enough), and 'Cry Cry Cry' is probably the worst of the more experimental songs. It's got some fun piano work, but overall it doesn't really go anywhere.
But there is more than enough to make up for it. 'Daddy' is quiet, slow, and very emotional, a beautifully performed track. ' بنی آدم' is a great rendition of the famous Iranian poem Bani Adam, and 'Guns', though light and upbeat in composition, is a strong political statement towards the state of the USA right now. As aforementioned, 'Arabesque' is also a fantastic listen.
But the standout track has to be 'Trouble in Town'. It's funky, it's sinister, and there are more than a few shades of Dire Straits throughout, especially in the guitar and piano work. Again, it's very political, with some fairly vicious samples being used to drive the message home. It's one of the best songs Coldplay have ever brought out, and it's pretty dire to think that it may not get the attention it deserves because it's not a single. This is Martin and co. on top form.
Coldplay have maintained their success for nearly two decades now, and this experimental and refreshing record will only aid them in that endeavour. Indeed, Everyday Life has the potential to bring in new fans who had previously written them off as the solely middle-of-the-road band who made 'Fix You'. There's a hesitation to call it a great album, but it's certainly a very good one. Other bands of the early millenium should take note: this is how you sustain your success and relevance. Roll with the times, do something different, and don't be afraid to think outside the box. Bravo, Coldplay, you have just proven many doubters - including myself - wrong.