Every album that Coldplay has released this decade has served a very specific purpose for the band’s artistic brand. Mylo Xyloto (2011) was the band’s experimental electronic record, Ghost Stories (2014) was the melancholic divorce album, and A Head Full of Dreams (2015) was the upbeat pop-driven album. With Everyday Life, the band’s eighth studio album, Coldplay dives headfirst into the political headspace that has anchored some of the most impactful albums of the decade. Arguably the band’s most cohesive and best-produced record, Everyday Life sometimes stumbles due to Chris Martin’s sloppy songwriting.
Everyday Life is a double album; the two albums are titled Sunrise and Sunset. To be completely honest, to call Everyday Life a “double album” is a stretch. At just eight tracks each, both sides of the album clock in at just under thirty minutes. In its entirety, Everyday Life is simply a standard hour-long record. There really isn’t enough happening thematically to warrant the “double album” title, but I digress. Semantics aside, Everyday Life sits in Coldplay’s trademark analogue pop/rock lane with small forays into folk, stadium rock, and even gospel. The brightest moments on Everyday Life are when the band finds unique ways to attack sociopolitical topics like gun violence, police violence, etc. For example, on one of the standout tracks, “Guns,” the band juxtaposes an urgent and dry acoustic guitar against satirical lyrics. As opposed to the overdone “Guns are bad!” angle, the band instead provides a scorching takedown of America’s obsession with guns in a way that is fresh and powerful. One of the earlier tracks on the album, “Trouble In Town,” achieves a similar feat. “Trouble” is written and sung from the perspective of a non-white citizen who faces constant danger in their home country. Initially, the song feels a bit problematic, but once the second half of the song commences, “Trouble” is truly elevated. The back half of the track features an interlude of a recording of an instance of unlawful harassment by a police officer against a person of color in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The interlude then transforms into a Zulu chant of “jikele” (which roughly translates into “universe” or “in general”) by the African Children’s Feeding Scheme.
The album’s two lead singles, “Orphans” and “Arabesque,” are much stronger in the context of the full record. Especially the latter which features funky drowned out horns. “Arabesque,” is the poppiest moment on Everyday Life, and it expands and builds upon the past anthemic pop/rock smashes of Coldplay’s past like “Viva La Vida” or “Hymn for the Weekend.” In that vein, when the band moves out of their comfort zone, the results are impressive. “BrokEn,” a sparsely-produced gospel number has more soul that Kanye West’s entire JESUS IS KING album. The lyrics are simple, but they’re honest and heartfelt. It’s a beautiful tribute to the band’s late producer, Brian Eno. Another gorgeous moment on Everyday Life is “Daddy,” a song that tells the story of the widening space between a father and his son. The specific meaning of this song could be anything from the taxing nature of tour life to the inhumane impact of mass incarceration on families of color. Nevertheless, it’s Chris Martin’s poignant vocal performance and the quiet piano that make this song the emotional apex that it is.
Despite all the great individual moments (which is unsurprising, it is Coldplay after all!), Everyday Life is not without its faults. For one, the final two tracks, “Champion of the World” and “Everyday Life,” are undercooked attempts at an optimistic outlook that ultimately fall flat. Similarly, the chorus of “Èkó” lazily positions a monolithic Africa as the premier symbol of beauty and peace… despite the title (Èkó is another name for Lagos) and background vocalist (Nigerian musician Tiwa Savage) specifically calling to Nigeria. Thematically, the song is confusing and the lyrics are overdone and embarrassing at this stage of Coldplay’s career. Moreover, sometimes the album’s cohesiveness works to its disadvantage. There are multiple moments where songs (“Cry Cry Cry” and “Old Friends”) bleed into each other and lack distinct elements of their own. Finally, tracks like “WOTW / POTP” fall somewhere between half-baked interludes and unfinished full-length songs. They crowd the tracklist and detract from the greatness of the more fully-realized songs.
Everyday Life is another commendable effort from Coldplay. They took some impressive risks that pushed their classic sound to new heights despite the shortcomings of some of the lyricism.
Key Tracks: “Guns”; “Daddy”; “Arabesque”; “BrokEn”