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Two years after the wonderful double album “Everyday Life”, Coldplay are aiming high again.
The Swedish producer Max Martin, who has already produced Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys and The Weeknd, made sure to soar in the charts.
With the BTS and Selena Gomez on board, with far too many synthesizers and dance beats in the sound, the band has largely lost its old magic.
Actually, “Humankind” could be such a nice, classic Coldplay pop song. Rousing pace, a catchy melody, the jingling, blissful guitar by Jonny Buckland and the understanding sing-along chorus by Chris Martin: “I know, I know, I know, we‘re only human”. But the song about humanity is in a sound tank. Beats and synthesizers, distorted Mickey Mouse voices. Even more overwhelming is “My Universe”, a song about love that overcomes all opposites – Coldplay have teamed up with the globally embraced K-pop gods BTS to make a profit. An overkill of sound that immediately took the top spot in the US singles charts.
So much was wanted here. The whole world wants to get Coldplay moving this time. They have been on a dance course for a long time, song by song, and with Max Martin they have won a producer for their album “Music of the Spheres” who is an accomplished, even world-famous dance teacher. The Swede’s references include the early days Britney Spears, the Backstreet Boys, but also The Weeknd, Pink and Taylor Swift. He uses math to get the maximum impact from his songs.
“Olé, olé, olé” chants are the low point of the album
And that’s exactly how the new Coldplay record sounds. The first minute is mainly spherical. The grace, the touching, the sublime pop, for which the four Brits stood for many years, is largely perdu as a result. In “Infinity Sign” you can even hear “Olé, olé, olé” chants for ages in the background. Probably for fans who miss the quartet’s stadium concerts. Or for the next soccer championship. The low point of the album.
“Music of the Spheres” is a technical breaker, an album of calculation. The first single “Higher Power” was even presented on the ISS, you can’t go any higher on this planet. In any case, U2s have never been that high. For the album, Coldplay created their own star system with nine space balls – one for each song.
Atmosphere – exactly what the album lacks. A science fiction work of art that is perceived as artificial, for which Chris Martin supposedly found inspiration from the space jazzers from the first “Star Wars” film. We would have preferred to have taken the “Game of Thrones” fake musical that Coldplay announced a few years ago in a (gorgeous) video with the stars of the fantasy scene. The joke from then is better than the seriousness of today.
In addition to the Bangtan Boys, Selena Gomez was also included in this seriousness. The teen star of yore, who recently impressed as an actress in the comedy crime series “Only Murders in the Building”, sings with Martin “Let Somebody Go” – a rather interchangeable farewell ballad. In “Biutyful”, the singer performs a duet with perhaps the catchiest melody on the album, with his own childishly alienated auto-tune voice. And with “People of the Pride” the band defends itself against all tyrants without creating relevant lyrics. The song has a glam rock riff without ever being a glam rock hit.
“If you try your best, but you don’t succeed”, Chris Martin had promised a long time ago in “Fix You”, one of the most beautiful Coldplay ballads, “I will try to straighten you up”. Now someone might have to do that with Coldplay after all. How touching were songs like “The Scientist”, “Yellow”, “In My Place” and how euphoric were “Violet Hill” and “Viva La Vida”. It was actually thought that they had overcome their disco phase, which began with the Avicii teamwork “A Sky Full of Stars” and during which they even had Beyoncé on board six years ago for “Hymn for the Weekend”.
Because two years ago they wandered through many pop worlds on the wondrous double album “Everyday Life”. Occasionally even oriental sounds were interspersed and in the song “Arabesque” they advocated peace in the world and between religions. A work of reconciliation and embrace – also for the fans from the very beginning. And when they talked about dancing there, they said “you have to keep dancing, even when the lights go on,” Martin sang at the time. Very simple and, as he sang it, very romantic.
With the last song of “Music of the Spheres”, Coldplay remember after they have perhaps overcome their fear of no longer being a mega-chart monster, as they once were, when some critics even drew comparisons to Pink Floyd . “Coloratura” is the name of this ten-minute space suite, which begins like the attunement of a space orchestra and becomes a dream-waltzing, intermittently beat-changing, then again hymn-like prog popding with piano and glockenspiel.
And in the end it is just a song for love: “In this crazy world I only want you”, Martin sings, as only he can make simple things sound great. “Together – this is how we get through.”
And Coldplay made it through – to the top. Which was to be proved. But at what price? “Music of the Spheres” is a pretty cold game.