Photo Credit: Tim Saccenti
Nearly four years of “everydays” have passed since the release of Coldplay’s last full-length studio album A Head Full of Dreams in 2015, so it might be easy to assume that with sixteen tracks clocking in at nearly an hour, the band’s new album Everyday Life is on some level an effort to make up for lost time. Either way, this new record is time well spent, as it’s got emotion, quality, diversity and, yes, life.
However, not everything goes as it was meant to with Everyday Life, starting with the attempt to present the album in two separate parts, Sunrise and Sunset. Other albums have tried to do this in the past (Joe Jackson’s 1982 release Night and Day as just one example), but this gimmick isn’t quite as effective as it could be, given that most people are probably going to listen to it on streaming services as one continuous work. Fortunately, this takes nothing away from the music itself.
Opening the album with the instrumental “Sunrise,” performed by what sounds like a full orchestra is clearly meant to imply an overture, suggesting that we’re in for a long but hopefully worthwhile ride. The track “Church” goes right to alleviating any concern that Coldplay has gone Boston Pops with a solid mid-tempo cut which fits in with the atmospheric rock that’s made the band international superstars. Still, that sound does not really dominate Everyday Life, which features songs like “Daddy,” a heartbreaking Paul McCartney-esque piano ballad.
Compelling enough, the otherwise-unflinchingly British band seems to embrace quite a number of American styles and/or themes on Everyday Life, including gospel (“Broken”) and Rhythm & Blues (“Cry Cry Cry”). However, it’s the bluesy synth cut “Trouble in Town,” which speaks the most brutal realism: quite literally, as it includes a lengthy audio of a real incident involving police racism in Philadelphia several years ago. On the same tip, there’s “Guns,” which despite the title takes on a number of additional dilemmas facing the U.S.: “Who needs education // Poor is good for business, cut the forests, they’re so dumb // It’s the opinion of this court that we need more guns,” (the song obviously crams quite a bit into less than two minutes). Musically, the acoustic guitar track clearly takes inspiration from Paul Simon, particularly the main riff from the classic “Mrs. Robinson”. The very next track, “Orphans” continues to play Simon Says, as the bouncy Eighties-style track is driven by a bassline to similar to that on “You Can Call Me Al”.
The two cuts which close the album, “Champion of the World” and the title track, both represent a complete return to the very familiar Coldplay sound, almost as though the band were pulling off a mask and saying “See? It was us all along!” Despite the intimacy or even simplicity of quite a few of the songs (and to a degree the overall album), Everyday Life was a group effort to say the least: all four band members (and sometimes others) have writing credits on every cut, each of which also lists as many as five producers. One might think that this might warrant a penalty for having too many men on the field at once. However, Everyday Life shows that after nearly two decades, Coldplay still knows not only how to play the game, but how to win.