Somehow I missed the release of Coldplay’s eighth studio album in November. I remember seeing advertisements for the live stream of their concert in Jordan on YouTube, but I assumed they were playing from their backlist; after all, rumors surrounded A Head Full of Dreams that it would be their final album. I was living in Boston when they were touring for Head Full of Dreams, and sidewalk paint stencils with tour dates started popping up on my walk from my apartment to the university where I was working. In retrospect, I kicked myself many times for missing what I thought was my last chance to see them in concert.
So I was very excited when, scrolling through my Amazon Music app, I came across a new Coldplay album, Everyday Life. I started listening to Coldplay late, familiar with hits like “Viva La Vida” and “Yellow” but not actually listening to their albums until Mylo Xyloto (2011). I first heard it in Hawaii when visiting my Army brother; he picked us up at the airport with leis, takeout sushi, and homemade cookies, blasting “Hurts Like Heaven” as we drove away from the airport to pick up the H-2 to the North Shore. Needless to say, Mylo Xyloto makes me smile every time.
I missed early Coldplay and ate up their later albums (including Ghost Stories and Head Full of Dreams), all in for their descendent into synth pop and the increasing spiritual bent to their lyrics, samples, and album structure. So I was surprised when I went back through their earlier music and read the reviews, most of which agreed that Coldplay hit their peak with A Rush of Blood to the Head and Viva La Vida. The critics faulted Coldplay’s later albums for playing it too safe, for not experimenting enough—or as I cynically quipped to a friend, “I guess they’re upset that Coldplay sounds too much like Coldplay.”
Everyday Life definitely sounds like Coldplay, whether you’re listening to up-tempo pop anthems like “Orphans” or moodier ballads like “Daddy.” Chris Martin delivers plenty of woo-hoos and lyrics striking that esoteric balance between profound and nonsensical. Flowing naturally from Head Full of Dreams tracks like “Kaleidoscope,” plenty of interludes featuring voices in foreign languages deliver statements on the nature of God and the human condition.
But Everyday Life does bring new things to Coldplay’s oeuvre. Tracks like “Guns” and “Trouble in Town” feature explicit language for the first time, an offensiveness commensurate with the disturbing social issues like racial profiling that the band faces head-on. Martin delivers some lyrics in French, and tracks bear titles in Yoruba and Persian. The album offers a more clear-eyed look at the world today, yet retains Coldplay’s now trademark hope and optimism.
And if I’m honest, I think that’s what I appreciate most about Everyday Life. Throughout the album, they tell stories of injustice, exploitation, loss of faith, and loneliness, inviting listeners to sit with the discomfort and pain. But in sharing this reality, “Everyday Life,” the concluding track, reminds us that we are not alone—that we are, in fact, united. And therein lies the power of storytelling, and the hope that Coldplay seems unwilling to give up.