December 20, 2021 Coldplay – Music of the Spheres (Album Review)
The enduring quartet is one of those bands that you either love or loathe. And, funnily, those who say they hate the band, when caught off-guard, could not even give a sensible reason; so the joke is on them; but that and they are not important. After all, Coldplay is the band, and their creativity and freedom are theirs to enjoy and pursue.
Formed in 1996, in London, England, by Chris Martin (vocals, piano, rhythm guitar), Jonny Buckland (lead guitars, keyboards), Guy Berryman (bass, keyboards), and Will Champion (drums, percussion), Coldplay through the years have become one of the most commercially popular and socially involved bands in the annals of Alternative music. This is courtesy of their melodramatic, Neo-Romantic, and shale-smooth songs delivered passionately and with blue-eyed charm by the silky-voiced Martin.
Since the release of their debut full-length in 2000, Coldplay have come a long way, garnering multi-platinum records and chart-topping singles. Twenty-one years and seven albums more, the charismatic band is still up and performing, with another opus in tow.
Released on October 15, 2021, via Parlophone/Atlantic Records, Music of the Spheres is Coldplay’s ninth offering. It opens with the short, ambient title-track instrumental and then segues into the upbeat, sunny, and slightly progressive “Higher Power,” which is oozing with the band’s so-called Limestone Rock–dancey, catchy, melodic, engaging, and anthemic. This is followed by the New Wave / Electroclash beats of the synth-heavy “Humankind”; Martin’s falsettos and oohs and ahhs are as infectious as ever.
After another bit of a spacey instrumental, titled “Alien Choir,” Coldplay launches into the slow, R-n-B-inspired ballad “Let Somebody Go,” which features the American Pop singer Selena Gomez–a surprising yet fitting duet. Further exploring the beauty of Rhythm-and-Blues, Martin and team then deliver the soulful a cappella “Human Heart”–this time, with guest artists the duo We Are King and the young English singer and multi-instrumentalist Jacob Collier.
With its stomps and pulses, “People of the Pride” then returns the listener to a higher plane of sonic energy, but then transitions afterwards to the loungy “Biutyful,” which stands out with its high-pitched manipulation of Martin’s voice.
Another interesting track then ensues in the form of “My Universe,” which treats the listener to a rather unlikely collaboration with the K-Pop group BTS–love it or hate it! After another short, space-themed instrumental, “Infinity Sign,” Coldplay then wraps up their controversial new record with the 10-minute long, Pink Floyd-reminiscent, multi-stylized and -structured epic “Coloratura,” which exudes faint echoes of The Cure’s “Six Different Ways” and Faye Wong’s “Eyes on Me,” as well as glazes of Japanese animé scores and soundtracks, making this album closer a certified Progressive composition.
Coldplay with its music has achieved the level of love-it-or-not quality; but regardless of the individual listener’s affinity, the sparseness and diversity of the band’s discography is an epitome of a band that is exercising its artistic freedom without the need to patronize its audience. In fact, Martin, Buckland, Berryman, and Champion, with their entire production team, truly deserve accolade for the kind of music that they are making–bridging the gap between Alternative Rock and Pop. If that unity is not what music of the spheres is all about, then what is? For all these, Cryptic Rock gives Music of the Spheres 4 out of 5 stars.