Coldplay
Everyday Life


4.5
superb

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
November 25th, 2019 | 85 replies


Release Date: 11/22/2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: It may not be much of a double concept album, but Everyday Life is still the best Coldplay has sounded in over a decade.

Coldplay went off the deep end in 2011, throwing all things histrionic against the wall to see what stuck during the confetti explosion that was Mylo Xyloto. Featuring memorable cuts such as ‘Paradise’, ‘Charlie Brown’, and ‘Princess of China’, the peaks were exciting enough to overshadow the album’s obvious shortcomings and inconsistencies. The same could not be said of 2015’s A Head Full of Dreams, which flaunted a similar level of bombast sans any of the quality content. Needless to say, no one had much reason to expect great things from Everyday Life, a highly touted “double album” that is really just one normal length release cut in half. When Coldplay started hyping the experimentalism of their own work, red flags were also raised, but it wasn’t until the record officially dropped that the most unexpected truth of all surfaced: Coldplay actually wasn’t lying. For the first time in over a decade, the band has thrown caution to the wind – and the results are far superior to anything they’ve done since Viva La Vida.

Even the most optimistic fan most likely wouldn’t have seen this coming, especially something as stirring as ‘Trouble In Town’ – a Parachutes-esque ballad that rapidly devolves into chaos like we’ve rarely, if ever, heard from Coldplay. Electric guitar chords subtly signal the build-up towards something finally more meaningful than the surface-level pleasantries of Mylo Xyloto/Ghost Stories/A Head Full of Dreams, and we get it in this angry, gnarled view of urban life that features an audio clip of a police brutality incident from Philadelphia in 2013. As the intensity of this altercation ramps up, a synth wall drops sharply, as if to simulate that pit you get in your stomach when you’re about to witness something dreadful happen to a fellow human being. Coldplay further perverts the aura of the song by throwing in chants from a Zulu children’s choir to score the background of the hatred-fueled dialogue, and it feels like we’ve suddenly landed somewhere within Pink Floyd’s The Wall. ‘Trouble In Town’ makes you feel like a guilty bystander who isn’t doing enough to intervene; it’s a level of discomfort you don’t expect from a Coldplay song, but it’s also the moment that Everyday Life establishes itself as so much more than your ordinary, cookie-cutter Coldplay outing.

The group’s eighth LP draws its strength from a renewed interest in testing its outer limits. ‘Arabesque’ marks another major departure from the norm; clocking in just shy of six minutes with lyrics in French and a full-blown saxophone solo which spans the entire midsection, the track builds to an emotional pinnacle where Chris Martin shouts, in angry repetition, “we share the same blood…same fucking blood!” Prior to Everyday Life, nobody would have pegged Coldplay as a band that might weave funk or jazz into their fabric, or have a chilling crescendo of any sort, but all of this occurs on ‘Arabesque’ and the results are shockingly strong. Elsewhere, Coldplay continues to challenge its own status quo in various ways: ‘BrokEn’ dabbles in gospel, ‘Cry Cry Cry’ borders on retro-soul, and ‘بني آدم’ samples the famous Saadi poem Son of Adam/Bani Adam atop elegant, breathtaking classical piano notes. There’s an enlightened air emanating from Everyday Life that sees them embracing creative freedom like they haven’t done since Viva La Vida or Prospekt’s March, and it’s reason for excitement – especially among fans who didn’t necessarily love the direction that they’ve taken of late.

Structurally, Everyday Life is supposedly divided into an experimental disc (Sunrise) and more of a mainstream pop collection (Sunset). On Sunrise – the “experimental” half – we get a fairly standard Coldplay song by all measures via ‘Church’, and – ironically – a pretty standard church hymnal by way of ‘When I Need a Friend’, which also sounds derivative of the Christian hymn ‘Holy Holy Holy.’ On Sunset – the distinctly “not experimental” disc, we witness a foray into 1960s-reminiscent soul-pop (‘Cry Cry Cry’), the unexpected acoustic rhythms of the anti-arms protest song ‘Guns’, and the aforementioned poetry of ‘بني آدم’. While the album’s two strongest moments of experimentation do indeed both occur on the first disc (‘Trouble In Town’, ‘Arabesque’), the experience otherwise blurs together without any real consequence. That isn’t meant to imply that the songs all sound similar, but merely that the experimental vs. traditional aspects of the music are not as clearly defined as the band alleged. All of this is to say that little stock need be invested in the record’s thematic intentions, because no matter how you order the tracks on Everyday Life, you’re liable to get the same thing out of the experience. Both Sunrise and Sunset have their share of intriguing departures and comfortably at-home Coldplay songs, making for an even listen across the board – even if it means that the whole “double concept album” hype was drummed up for nothing.

For as much as ‘Trouble In Town’ and ‘Arabesque’ see Coldplay triumph over new territory, there are still plenty of instances that anchor Everyday Life to familiarity – and some of them are even clear highlights. One track that is a marvelous success simply by recalling old-school Coldplay is ‘Daddy’ – a heartbreaking piano ballad that sounds like it was ripped straight from the X&Y sessions – which sports lyrics about a son and his estranged father who moved away: “Daddy, why'd you run away? / Daddy, are you okay? / Look, Dad, we got the same hair, and Daddy, it's my birthday.” The naivety and simplicity of the outlook provided by the son makes it seem like it’s being told from an abandoned child’s perspective, adding hefty emotional weight to the atmosphere. ‘Orphans’ is a song with huge hooks that fall right into Coldplay’s wheelhouse, easily separating itself as the catchiest standalone single since ‘Paradise.’ ‘Champion of the World’ begins as a relatively straightforward mid-tempo pop rock song but culminates in a chorus that aspires to Queen/Beach Boys levels of grandiosity (“I'm flying on my bicycle, heading upwards from the Earth / I am jumping with no parachute, out into the universe”). It works better here than similar moments did on Mylo Xyloto or A Head Full of Dreams because the melodic sugar rush feels earned. Regardless, it’s big time theatrical Coldplay at its best.

As a sixteen track experience, Everyday Life rarely falters – but when it does, it tends to come in the form of fluff pieces that seem to be inherently prevalent in highly conceptual pieces such as this. ‘WOTW/POTP’ is nothing more than a sparse acoustic interlude with songbirds in the background. ‘Èkó’ is beautiful from an aesthetic standpoint, but rings a bit hollow in terms of lyrical or instrumental substance – almost a Bon Iver i,i moment. While these brief, interlude-esque tracks are sprinkled throughout Everyday Life, there’s still a very solid twelve-to-thirteen song foundation in place – which is further evidence that this whole thing never needed to be forced into “double album” duty in the first place…but hey, if that’s what it takes to get Coldplay’s creative juices flowing again, then it’s worth the cost. After all, this is easily the best thing that Coldplay has composed since Viva La Vida, and it serves as the proper successor to that magnum opus. Everyday Life is a wholly engaging blend of creative, forward-thinking Coldplay and no-frills, fun Coldplay. While every opportunity isn’t fully capitalized upon (rarely does Coldplay match the tension of ‘Trouble In Town’ or expand upon the message portrayed in ‘Arabesque’), it still avoids the pitfalls of its most immediate predecessors. Everyday Life is bold and exudes confidence, and it never wanders into long, forgettable stretches the way that both Ghost Stories and A Head Full of Dreams did. One has to wonder: if they followed up Viva La Vida with this album, would we be talking about them as one of the best? Everyday Life certainly shatters the illusion that Coldplay is a boring, safe band – so if nothing else, that’s a start.



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user ratings (134)
3.2
good
other reviews of this album
JohnnyoftheWell CONTRIBUTOR (2.5)
Coldplay boldly exchange their past pitfalls for an exciting set of new ones...

TheMoonchild (3.5)
The catchiest midlife crisis you'll ever hear....

Drbebop (4)
Everyone’s gone fucking crazy...

FilteredSeaMen (2)
The effluent tap has been turned down but It's flow persists....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Observer
Staff Reviewer
November 25th 2019


7321 Comments


oh wow.

Digging: Shiner - Lula Divinia

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
November 25th 2019


18859 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

The kings of mediocrity are back in full force. This has a few good songs but a lot of fluff and underdeveloped ideas too.

Good review, I feel pretty much the same about what the highlights are. MX, GS, and this are around the same level of quality imo

Digging: No-Man - Love You To Bits

Lucman
November 25th 2019


3565 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This has a few good songs but a lot of fluff and underdeveloped ideas too. [2]

If this was a bit more focused it could be as good as Ghost Stories, which is the best Coldplay record of this decade.

Digging: Hallelujah The Hills - I'm You

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
November 25th 2019


18589 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I'm gonna have to check Ghost Stories again because that take is q possibly correct afaik. That record made me think that the best possible version of a post-Viva Coldplay album would be an instrumental bedroom pop record and I've yet to he proved wrong.

Digging: Ben Howard - I Forget Where We Were

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
November 25th 2019


18859 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Ghost Stories is my favorite Coldplay album of this decade instrumentally, but the lyrics kinda ruin some of the songs for me. Good thing I found a fully instrumental version on the Internet a while ago that has the same sound quality as the official album.

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
November 25th 2019


18589 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Lmao Talons nice find (& agreed). Your version with A Sky Full of Stars chopped out completely sounds like a pretty good final form to me

Lucman
November 25th 2019


3565 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Yep, I've always felt that Ghost Stories was unfairly disliked. I like it more than both A Rush of Blood and X&Y. "Always In My Head," "Ink," and "O" are fantastic. "Midnight" is possibly the best song they've ever written. I even enjoy "A Sky Full of Stars."

SowingSeason
Moderator
November 25th 2019


32817 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think the difference is that I still really like the allegedly underdeveloped songs. I found myself really digging the soul and gospel vibes, and aside from a few pointless interludes and that all-out hymnal, everything here is just a cut below VLV, which for me is a strong 5.

Edit: I love 'Midnight' and 'Ink' off Ghost Stories, but too much of it is bland and unmemorable to me. Kind of how everyone else feels about this, but inverted, lol. Honestly every Coldplay album has at least a couple diamonds in the rough. AHFOD was awful and I still love 'Hymn for the Weekend' and 'Up&Up'.

Also, here is my TBT:

Sunrise:

1) Sunrise - very pretty/5

2) Church - 4/5

3) Trouble in Town - 5/5

4) Broken - 4/5

5) Daddy - 5/5

6) WOTW / POTP - 3/5

7) Arabesque - 5/5

8) When I Need a Friend - 3/5



Sunset:

1) Guns - 4.5/5

2) Orphans - 4.5/5

3) Èkó - 3.5/5

4) Cry Cry Cry - 4/5

5) Old Friends - 4.5/5

6) بني آدم

4.5/5

7) Champion of the World - 5/5

8) Everyday Life - 4/5

Digging: Coldplay - Everyday Life

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
November 25th 2019


18589 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

The only way Hymn for the Weekend could have been a more embarrassing track is if it had been an outright Avicii cover

How come Daddy gets a 5 when Orphans is stuck in the 4.5 ballpark?

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
November 25th 2019


18859 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

T/t and Birds are the best songs on A Head Full of Dreams.

Kaleidoscope EP is their best since Viva.

SowingSeason
Moderator
November 25th 2019


32817 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Are you sure you're not thinking of Sky Full of Stars? Hymn for the Weekend is a lot more akin to Princess of China than anything Avicii related.

And Daddy gets a 5 because the pianos are downright stunning in it. It's wistful and heartbreaking, whereas Orphans is just your basic infectious pop tune.

TheMightyScoop
November 25th 2019


1493 Comments


if by infectious you mean bland and mediocre, I would concur.

JohnnyoftheWell
Contributing Reviewer
November 25th 2019


18589 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Hmm the same goes for Sky Full of Stars in more specific genre terms, fair point. For Hymn to the Weekend the point of comparison is more its asinine Ultra Anthemic feel thrown out to whatever this band thinks the good times crowd is

And I guess that figures, although I can't find anything to cut Daddy out from your common or garden ballad written by some freelancer who just cried at his first Disney movie

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
November 25th 2019


42849 Comments

Album Rating: 3.1 | Sound Off

"Prior to Everyday Life, nobody would have pegged Coldplay as a band that might weave funk or jazz into their fabric, or have a chilling crescendo of any sort"



I know it's ancient history now but the crescendo to Such a Rush makes Trouble in Town's look like the smallest of fry



I really don't get the hype for that song in particular. the much-touted audio clip of the police brutality incident comes off like a lazy, shock-value tactic to get people invested in the song because Chris' lyrics are so godawful they're not doing the trick (I nearly turned the whole album off first time I heard "trouble in town... they hung my brother brown" ngl). and the big explosion is... just a big explosion. I'm not against hearing Buckland actually play his guitar again, don't get me wrong, but I really don't think the song earns or needs this random bit of 'heaviness' (by Coldplay standards that is) at all

Darius the Great
November 25th 2019


21118 Comments


neg

Thanntos
November 25th 2019


356 Comments


OVER a decade is a bit of a stretch. VLV was a gd masterpiece and MX was pretty damn solid. This is also very good. Caught the live stream and watched it several times after. The flow is nice and the atmosphere is wonderful. Need my physical copy to explore it more.

SowingSeason
Moderator
November 25th 2019


32817 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Maybe it boils down to expectations. I never thought Chris was even an average lyricist, so Trouble In Town didn't strike me as particularly egregious by his standards and I am still too thrilled by them covering something controversial and of value to care either way. The music behind it all is what's chilling to me: the subtle electric riffs trickling throughout the background, the synth surges, the eerie choir...whew.

CugnoBrasso
November 25th 2019


797 Comments


Band = ass

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
November 25th 2019


17189 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I really wish they capitalized on the Trouble in Town/Arabesque sound and message here, if they did this would be a 5

neekafat
Contributing Reviewer
November 25th 2019


17189 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Egh Champion of the World is one of their worst tracks



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