Kaleidoscope is a perfect example of why we should encourage innovation, but fear change.
Kaleidoscope, defined as “a continually changing pattern of shapes and colours”, makes Coldplay‘s newest EP the most fitting title for a record they have ever had; featuring five new songs, Kaleidoscope couldn’t be more varied in its style, aesthetic and sound. Whilst this approach may work for less-seasoned bands, Coldplay are one of the most popular pop rock bands on the scene today, and although innovation in the music industry should always be encouraged, dabbling with such an exotic palette simply doesn’t suit Chris Martin and co. at all. This mishap of a new direction for the band has resulted in an EP that is just as varied in quality as it is in sound.
To kick off on a positive note, there are a few good listens on Kaleidoscope; well, two. ‘Hypnotised’ is the best of the lot. Sporting beautiful lyrics and a soulful, melancholic theme, it sounds like it could’ve come straight out of 2014’s Ghost Stories, and is a wonderful addition to the discography. Also coming out on top is ‘Miracles (Someone Special)’, a collaboration with American rapper Big Sean. A meshing of musical styles that could have easily been horrific, it’s a surprising joy, with a nice energy and a positive message that leaves a comforting warmth in its wake. That such distinct artists could come together to make something so successful is almost enough to negate any concerns about Coldplay’s radical gear shift. But then, tragically, comes the rest of the record.
‘All I Can Think About is You’ is an earache of a track. Dull, lifeless and lethargic, its inoffensive enough and could’ve easily been a scrapped track from earlier albums like Parachutes and A Rush of Blood to the Head. Its biggest crime is simply how unremarkable it is, with that a much bigger problem here on a small EP. Its unoriginality cannot be hidden; that, and some weird lyric about Chris wanting to be a shoe, but I digress. Next up is ‘Something Just Like This – Tokyo Remix’, which features a very subtle appearance from The Chainsmokers. The song, which has already been dissected and quite-rightly slammed on The Edge, is about as bland as a stale packet of salted crisps, and features frankly cringe-worthy lyrics that pay lip-service to Batman, Spider-Man, and several other popular heroic characters, in what I can only assume to be some kind of inert attempt to appeal to a mainstream demographic. Chris, A Head Full of Dreams sold over 5 million copies – what are you doing here?
Finally, we have ‘A L I E N S’, which apart from having the most irritating title for a song in some time, is by far the worst Kaleidoscope has to offer. The band who wrote such powerful, tear-jerking songs as ‘Fix You’ and ‘O’ is unidentifiable here, spewing out the lyrical equivalent of liquid bile with such lines as “diamonds ate the radio” and “all the E.T.’s are phoning home”. We’ve come to expect so much more of Coldplay than this Bowie-esque social justice sucker punch, and that’s what makes ‘A L I E N S’ hurt the most. With its nonsensical lyrics and sickly beats, its the final nail in the coffin.
If I had to make a post-mortem of Kaleidoscope, I feel that the success of the jovial and starry A Head Full of Dreams is the cause of this EP’s drastic U-turn. When Coldplay was a guilty pleasure – popular, but not too popular – they produced music that resonated with fans because it was heartfelt, and echoed the thoughtful and melodic emotions of its composers. But becoming a worldwide phenomenon has changed Coldplay, and now they seem to be treading water in a desperate attempt to stay afloat in an industry that hasn’t changed decisively for over a decade. The failing of Kaleidoscope, compared with AHFOD, is that there isn’t anything memorable about the majority of its songs. Every album is allowed to have a few black sheep, but Kaleidoscope is a record made out of a whole flock of them.
Kaleidoscope is out now via Parlophone and Warner Music