On December 4, 2015, the British rock band, Coldplay, released its seventh studio album, A Head Full of Dreams. Though generally consistent with the band’s signature sound, some tracks stand out due to both their musical traits and lyrical subjects.
The album begins with the mystical opening of the title track, with their classic drums and bass guitar slowly creeping in as the vocals start up. The song progresses to use some synths into the chorus, a unique sound reminiscent of the band’s album Mylo Xyloto. The bridge of the song is composed of the lead guitar repeating the song’s melody, with vocals and drums slowly building into a crescendo during the chorus.
“Birds,” the second track on the album, takes advantage of a unique and sparse rhyming scheme to enhance the meaning of the chorus. While verses include no strong rhymes, the refrain involves simple rhyming and strategic breaks to keep the listener engaged. This song, full of strong drums and Coldplay’s staple lead guitar, ends suddenly with the word “cool,” surprising listeners.
The following song, “Hymn for the Weekend,” begins with a bird song and animal noises until Beyoncé’s voice slowly breaks the natural atmosphere. Her guest appearance in this song is a pleasant surprise; the album didn’t advertise its guest artists. Her familiar voice adds a sense of what most college students’ weekends are like; we are often “feeling drunk and high” as the song suggests. This track discusses the experiences of alcohol and drug use, behaviors that typically occur on the weekends and thus justifying the track’s title.
The fourth song is a departure from its party-like precedent. “Everglow” is a sweet song describing how a departed friend gives the lead singer the feeling of “everglow” through unending love and support. The track ends with the sincere verse, “So if you love someone, you should let them know / oh the light that you gave me will everglow.”
The more upbeat “Adventure of a Lifetime” follows with catchy beats and lyrics. This track was released as a single before the December 4th release date. The track can stand alone as a strong party anthem or as a part of the album, giving listeners variety.
“Fun” features Tove Lo during the second verse and chorus; her twangy sound contributes to the song’s retrospective lyrics. “Kaleidoscope,” the seventh track, begins with a departure from the ‘classic’ Coldplay sound of the earlier pieces, as it prominently features a classical piano throughout the opening. This evolves into husky spoken word accompanied by piano and light xylophone.
After this short piece, the group is back to the album’s signature sound of prominent guitar melodies backed up by drums in “Army of One.” This song highlights the ends one lover will go to reach the other; the synths and floating vocals convince listeners that the singer is completely enamored by the desired lover. Listed as “Army of One,” the song also contains the hidden song, “X Marks the Spot,” a more serious piece with heavy drums and low synths.
The ninth track is one of the purest songs the band has produced. “Amazing Day,” a reflection on time spent with a friend, puts forth a simple message: you don’t always have to write songs about very tangible things—songs about a great afternoon doing nothing are also extremely interesting to listen to. This song is my favorite due to its calm drums and accessible message. As a college student, I don’t hear much music about relaxing with someone who makes me feel wonderful, so this song was a refreshing reminder that not every soundbite has to have aggressive percussion and an uncertain meaning. “Color Spectrum,” a short esoteric piece, is reminiscent of the first track on the album, though it quickly diverges with the soft spoken word and a strong xylophone-sounding instrument.
The album closes with “Up&Up,” an uplifting song about “getting it together.” This track uses soft musical accompaniment, with its simple percussion and calm guitar and bass, to emphasize the lyrics and chorus. The song hits its stride after the bridge as a community of voices sings to create a sense of togetherness and support through the chorus. The song ends with Coldplay’s lead singing the lyrics, “Don’t ever give up.”
“Up&Up” presents a hopeful end to a wonderful album that inspires listeners to push harder, enjoy calmness, and relish in wonderful friendships. This is an excellent album that all Coldplay fans are bound to enjoy.