My history with Coldplay has been long and arduous. I once loved the band more than any other, but that all changed when — in my angst-ridden, indie-centric opinion — they sold out. The beginning of Coldplay’s downfall occurred with the release of their 2014 album Ghost Stories and was reinforced by the release of A Head Full of Dreams in 2015. Coldplay’s recent artistic endeavors have been saccharine and empty. The songs, though catchy, were bubblegum pop, devoid of any genuine message. The band’s first five albums each told a different story and were packed with meaningful, eloquent lyrics and iconic melodies. Coldplay’s newest album, Everyday Life, makes an attempt to regain the respect that was once had for their music. For the most part, it succeeds.
Everyday Life is a politically charged commentary on the current state of the world, tackling issues like police brutality and gun control. The album is broken up into two sections, “Sunrise” and “Sunset,” each of which consists of eight songs. According to lead singer Chris Martin, the first half of the album demonstrates the social problems being faced, while the second half attempts to simulate solutions. Everyday Life makes a statement, functioning more so as a work of art, intangible to the archetypal fan.
The album opens with “Sunrise,” a beautiful instrumental piece that instills a sense of unease into the beginning of the album. The song feels almost like a film score, and the violin cautiously loops the Middle Eastern drums through a deeply evocative melody. One would expect it to play as the camera pans over the aftermath of a battle, showing peace in destructive calm.
The album’s true political commentary begins with “Trouble in Town,” which addresses police brutality. The song feels like Parachutes-era Coldplay, with its soft and subtle melody and gently sung, thought-provoking lyrics. This changes with the inclusion of a recording of a disturbing altercation between a non-white man and a police officer. The recording follows the upsettingly over-zealous tactics employed by the officer who verbally abuses the man, getting angry at his attempt at answering the officer’s questions. What follows is an instrumental cacophonous rampage. The orchestrated chaos makes the listener intentionally uneasy. Perhaps it symbolizes the unfortunate, violent result that often comes from an interaction with the police like the one found in this song.
The second part of the album begins with “Guns,” a song that is similarly politically charged. “Guns” is a blatant attack on American gun policy. The lyrics address the tumult surrounding the Second Amendment’s “well regulated militia” debate: “Advertise a revolution, arm it when it comes.” The song goes on to attack the American courts who perpetuate this antiquated justifications for individual possession of tools designed to kill, “The judgment of this court is we need more guns.” The song is highly critical and mocks America’s unwavering desire to place individual rights over the safety and welfare of its citizenry.
The final song of the album, “Everyday Life,” is one with which I take issue. The album leading up to it was of high quality, a redemption for Coldplay from the forgettable pop they had been producing in the last few years. This redemption falls short in the album’s final song. The band’s effort to artfully address the dichotomy between social problems and social solutions is not lost on me. I understand that in recent years, Coldplay’s message has been about love, but the lyrics in the final song perpetuate said message in such a way that comes off as pandering and infantile. The song summarizes the album, begging the question: “What in the world are we going to do? Look at what everybody’s going through.” It then poses the solution: “Got to keep dancing when the lights go out.” That’s Coldplay’s advice? For the political pandemic that this generation is suffering through? The Earth is self-destructing, innocent racial minorities are being murdered by individuals hired to protect, there is a demagogue in the Oval Office spewing hatred and causing division, but Coldplay thinks that if we just keep dancing through these mercilessly dark times we will somehow come out unscathed?
I understand that Coldplay was not intending to manifest world peace in releasing this album. I appreciate their message, but by presenting viscerally upsetting and well-crafted songs that perfectly delineate the hardships this world is facing, I hoped the resolution would be more than just a simple “Let’s all just get along and spread love.” This album attempts to make intense social commentary but falls flat. The sincerity is there and the intentions are good. But music is a powerful medium — it has the power to bring the reality of social hardships and tragedies to life in a way that no other form of media can. I hoped that Coldplay could provide a more substantive solution to an album that is quite impactful and well crafted.
Madeline Rutowski is a senior in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. She can be reached at [email protected]