Listening to the swirling ambience of 'Everyday Life's orchestral, lyric-less two-minute opening track, a listener would never know that a sweeping commentary on seemingly every global issue was to follow. 'Everyday Life' is not an ambient album – as the first track would suggest – but rather Coldplay’s own misguided stab at social justice through song, one that aims to change the world with a touchy-feely, white-savior-esque, disingenuous call-to-unity that borders a bit on naivety.
Across the 16-song double album, Coldplay cover an impressive amount of thematic ground. Never in the 52 minutes does it sound like they have bit off more than they can chew, but what it does seem they have done is stretched too little into a very thin “too much” – as if they were trying to handle hundreds of years worth of racial tension ('Trouble In Town'), prejudice ('Arabesque'), and complexities of war ('Orphans') into 52 minutes, ending up with a watered-down version of it all.
It’s all dangerously vague, and lumps the “problems of the world” into just that – one mass of "problems" that you think about in theory but forget quickly (especially if they do not immediately concern you), rather than considering the complexities and systems that keep each one of these problems in place.
That said, it would be unfair to let the melodic prowess that Coldplay has shown here go unappreciated. 'Eko' – ignoring the strange lyrics of African pride that a white man has seemed to take on – showcases a soft, acoustic melody that is only enhanced by the beautiful harmony between him and Tiwa Savage. And 'Orphans' – barring its particularly trite pre-chorus – paints a sobering picture of war-torn life for a young girl that juxtaposes well with the upbeat, guitar-driven soundscape behind it.
'Church' is an undeniably ‘Coldplay’ song, with Martin’s signature blooming vocals over riffs that give you a headrush – and is this time bookended by a soothing aria in Arabic.
Despite the album’s missteps, Coldplay manage to find themselves pockets of beauty in the midst of the chaos that they themselves have ironically created, to craft something melodically unique that whisks us back to 2008’s watermark 'Viva La Vida' era.
Words: Valerie Magan
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