Review Summary: A nice, if arguably pointless effort from a constantly changing band
As an unexpected release from a band that previously announced their intent to halt production on new records, the Kaleidoscope EP
sees Coldplay shedding their overproduced pop sound for something on the organic side. Sure, their organic proxy is still as unashamedly colorful and over the top as anything off Mylo Xyloto
and A Head Full of Dreams
, though unlike the aforementioned there is a stronger sense of restraint and even subtlety resting on this project. The closest comparison that can be made is with one of Coldplay’s earliest releases, The Blue Room
, which too saw smoother, more expansive work from the band before their full embracement with simpler pop structures (and a dash of Radiohead worship in Parachute’s
case) and eventually massive, over the top theatrics.
The bookends of Kaleidoscope
, along with the Brian Eno produced “A L I E N S” which rests snugly dead and center, soar with spacey compositions that invoke grand imagery of otherworldly locations and find Coldplay utilizing their full band set-up to its best effect. Complementing pretty pianos, deep basslines bounce off jazzy drum fills and luscious guitar leads on the progressively building “All I Can Think About Is You”, which pushes cryptic lyrics of a world spinning out of control - an interesting contrast to the otherwise soft and dreamy instrumental backing. “Hypnotised” too, another well executed slow burner, builds with childish and innocuous glass keys and a twangy guitar that reflect the track’s more optimistic theme of renewal. While these two tracks, along with “A L I E N S” and its skitty percussive setup and atmospheric, subtle guitar work, show great promise when stacked against the band’s otherwise dismal output as of late, Coldplay unfortunately miss the mark.
The EP is tainted by two stinkers, including a completely useless and dishonestly titled live recording of The Chainsmoker’s “Something Just Like This” with audio quality that shouldn't belong on any professional release. The other is a weak electropop snoozer with a bland Big Sean feature that feels as out of place as the cheesy disco-lite guitar loop that leads the track. On top of that, while “All I Can Think About” and “Hypnotised” function together with a pessimistic/optimistic dynamic, there is barely a string to tie the rest of the EP together as a fully realized package - an aspect that even the worst of Coldplay’s catalogue managed. Without a unifying thematic, it feels less like a new progression for the band and more like a treat “for the fans” to digest until their next release - full length or not. Thankfully, despite the EP’s lack of togetherness and the duds that plague it, the best on Kaleidoscope
shine definitive highlights in Coldplay’s discography and are worth a full spin, even if their existence when considering the context of the EP is questionable.