Review Summary: The most casual music for the most casual listeners...
What expectations do you have from Coldplay in 2021? Chris Martin & Co. have gradually shed all layers that made their music and lyrics interesting, thus becoming so generic and bland anyone could enjoy them. The quartet has done a great job turning themselves into the most harmless pop act. As a huge fan of their ‘00s output, I was really disappointed to witness this process. I want to believe they were trapped into the vicious circle where success fueled this sonic transition. Martin displayed signs from early on that he was destined to become Bono 2, however, they all dove head first into the whole mainstream game. It’s hard to resist creating anthems after you start selling out multiple nights on stadiums all over the globe. Such is the curse: you can’t go back once you reached that level and stagnation is accepted.
On a few occasions, Everyday Life
showed us there are ways to infuse quality into MOR material. Unfortunately, Music of the Spheres
fearlessly steps over what little foundation that album rebuilt. The tunes are once more as transparent as they can get, whereas the lyrical content ranges from nauseous hippie lectures to sigh-inducing cosmic traveling connections to love or overly optimistic ravings. Chris often seems so brainwashed into this joyous MDMA-ed universe that his message simply ends up superficial. Musically, the album relies on the band’s trademark breezy electronic pop with playful ‘80s synths on top. I find it as an even more accessible Mylo Xyloto
with dumbed down lyrics and less overall meaning. First single ‘Higher Power’ is mostly ‘Hurts Like Heaven’ without the reverb drenched guitar washes. The pumping ‘Humankind’ follows with a slightly catchy melodic chorus, but everything else around it is painfully dull. Moreover, since Kpop superstars BTS have been slowly turning into Coldplay it was only natural to join forces on a cheesy soft pop tune, ‘My Universe’. It’s like they are challenging themselves who can be blander than the other with the delivery. Martin has repeatedly proven his knack for beautiful vocal leads, still not even these can salvage such tepid content.
Music of the Spheres
’ middle part tries to reach out in different directions with unsuccessful results. ‘People of the Pride’ kicks in with glam rock ambitions, however, it doesn’t go anywhere. It sounds a bit out of place on the record too. Same goes with ‘Heart Sign’, an acapella gospel ditty featuring Jacob Collier and We Are King. It’s nice despite echoing ‘When I Need a Friend’ off of Everyday Life
, still it feels thrown in there solely for diversity. Bouncing from one corner to another, the mostly instrumental ‘Infinity Sign’ starts as a pseudo techno track with a melodic synth gently fading in. Its presence doesn’t upset or enhance the listen though. Album closer, ‘Coloratura’ is the only song worth your time here. From the classical piano leads to the slide guitar solo and doubled vocals, this 10-minute epic channels Gilmour-led era Pink Floyd’s atmosphere. Again, it shows us that the group can add quality to their formula in unexpected ways. My only complaint about it is that Chris does a wonderful job here, while his band mates’ input is slightly disappointing. They stick to the main chords most of the time and the drumming is basic. Sadly, ‘Coloratura’ is not enough to save the LP from being a mess. In the end, you can’t even say you are disappointed anymore. This is who Coldplay are now, producing the most casual music for the most casual listeners possible. It’s sad especially when you revisit early works such as A Rush of Blood to the Head
or even Viva La Vida