It’s always odd to see the end of a band, especially when it’s one as widely loved and successful as Coldplay. As different and far come as A Head Full of Dreams may be from their debut, Parachutes, it’s still undoubtedly Coldplay. When “Paradise” came out from Mylo Xyloto I thought it was the end of Coldplay. “It’s the wrong Coldplay Para- prefix,” I remember saying. Confirmed on Ghost Stories, Coldplay were by all accounts completely dead to me, but when I heard that A Head Full of Dreams was going to be their last record, culminating in the Super Bowl 50 half-time performance, I had to give them the respect they deserve, enough to listen to their last record.
Whether out of suspected necessity or the drive to try and attract younger and younger fans as their careers went on, it’s very interesting how the band got more electronic/dance over the years, especially since they originally started out with singles like “Yellow” and “Sparks.” As the technology changes and the music industry adapts, it’s the youngest generation that can keep up, thus the move from alternative rock to dance-pop makes sense in theory, but with Mylo Xyloto only really making the big bucks because of their massive tour, and Ghost Stories being a huge flop in my eyes, but apparently not in the eyes of the Grammy’s (like, try to name one song from that record), the path to A Head Full of Dreams didn’t look incredibly promising.
Needless to say, I was surprised, not just because it takes really well crafted pop music for me to enjoy pop as a genre more than just club-dance music, but because it was Coldplay, and they were pulling off really good pop music. Other than the interlude’s, there really isn’t a track on A Head Full of Dreams that I don’t enjoy. While some may be a bit corny, it’s pop music. I do love how the President was sampled singing “Amazing Grace” on track 7, “Kaleidoscope,” the interlude into the second half of the record, and Obama still said that “How Much A Dollar Cost” by Kendrick Lamar was his favorite song of the year. I also love that Obama loves Kendrick Lamar and chose a song that wasn’t just one of the singles, though I digress.
Back to the record at hand, the thing that puts A Head Full of Dreams above other concert-fueled pop is in the writing and the instrumentation. Just about every song has a verse -> pre-chorus -> pre-chorus #2 -> chorus -> come down, aspect to it and they’re all catchy as hell. The instrumentation and production are also fantastic, with Will Champion pulling off some amazing aux. percussion parts, like those in “Hymn for the Weekend,” that really just complete the song.
Honestly, I was very surprised by the success of the record prior to my first listen. The surprise twisted upon itself after I had heard it fully, and my utter fascination of the record continues to this day. This isn’t some new teenage hopeful screaming into a microphone about the nightlife or whatever else, this is an experienced band who decided to make pop music and just needed some warming up. And maybe Chris Martin’s divorce to Gwyneth Paltrow brought him the inspiration he needed, there sure as hell are songs about it here. Regardless, it’s a surprisingly enjoyable record in my books, and a triumphant end to Coldplay.