Review Summary: Is love is the only thing left that's true?
It’s hard for a man with a profound sense of love for Coldplay to get by in the world. His musical opinions can always be cut down with a simple, “But you 5’d Viva la Vida.” His yearning for optimism can always be trampled by the bitterness of reality. But Coldplay has always transported me to a different world where this wasn’t the case.
This release more than ever threatened to finally cut down my adoration of the band a few notches. Coming off of the low-point of A Head Full of Dreams
and releasing “Something Just Like This” with the Chainsmokers as a lead single created an immediate wince. It was undoubtedly the worst song ever released under the Coldplay moniker. And did the world really need an EP chock-full of b-sides from A Head Full of Dreams
(as it was originally marketed)"
It wasn’t long till things shifted gears. The release of three more singles of increasing quality that sounded virtually nothing like AHFOD
, indeed, nothing really like anything they’d done before, turned my head so fast I almost broke my neck. The retroactive addition of the “Tokyo Remix” of “Something Just Like This” in place of the original single also relieved my nervousness. It succeeded in dismantling the stilted, manufactured vibe of the initial release. While it still is far worse than any other Coldplay song, it is miles beyond what came before, and flows much better on the EP than one would expect.
That isn’t to say that they don’t falter here more than they ever had. For example, the doomed-to-fail and out of place Big Sean contribution featured on “Miracles (Something Special).” It’s a funky and otherwise inspired song marred by one bad idea. And any addition of a song featuring the Chainsmokers is a terrible choice, regardless of a superior version.
On this release however, the ratio is stacked in their favor.
The glitchy “A L I E N S” takes my earlier remark of the otherworldly quality of Coldplay’s music to the extreme. I’ve not heard anything quite like it. It’s at once startling and disquieting while also calming and full, piling sound upon sound in such a satisfying way that I wouldn’t mind an entire album focused merely on the style they used in this track.
The dark plunge of “All I Can Think About You” is the only thing that can match “A L I E N S” in terms of quality. It begins the EP featuring singer Chris Martin in more pain than we’ve heard him in years. It’s a repressed, drowned, and dare I say angry
sound. That is, until its quickly swept away by gorgeous pianos and a full choir, all ascending effortlessly into a swirling climax. One can imagine swimming higher and higher towards the surface, sun beginning to shimmer through the ripples of water; rising and rising until finally breaking through and taking a deep breath of air as Martin sings the closing line, “Love is the only thing left that's true.” There may be no other greater truth to Coldplay’s music than this.
This opener is perhaps a perfect mirror of the closer “Hypnotised.” It also features Coldplay moving through a soupy looping piano riff and swirling country-esque guitars, but there’s nothing dark rustling under the surface here. It all builds to a lovely climax, much like the opener, however the mood is different now. While Martin’s aforementioned line sounded almost like a question before, this ending serves as a resounding “Yes.”
At the end of the day, this new EP only serves to prove one thing. That Coldplay doesn’t make music for sad people, and they don’t make music for happy people either. They make it for the ones who want to be.