At the end of a year that saw musicians like Niall Horan and Ed Sheeran gingerly dip their toes into other languages, Coldplay have responded: Hold my European beer.
Their new album, “Everyday Life,” is so utterly embracing of the world that is has words spoken or sung in Arabic, Spanish, Zulu and Igbo, and even a French verse sung by lead singer Chris Martin.
It’s a fluid and experimental 53-minute double album, divided into two halves, Sunrise and Sunset. If on 2015’s “A Head Full of Dreams,” the band sampled the likes of Barack Obama and a Rumi poem, now they’re doubling down.
“Everyday Life” is bursting with idiosyncratic references, ranging from the film “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” to a Bob Dylan lyric, a novel by Khaled Hosseini, audio of a bullying traffic stop by a cop in Philadelphia, an elegy to Africa, samples from Nigerian composer Harcourt Whyte and jazz legend Alice Coltrane, the South African activist song “Jikelele” and an exuberant tune about Syrian refugees (“Orphans,” which features a credit for Martin’s teenage son, Moses).
“Orphans” is really the only traditional-sounding Coldplay song. The others are often subdued, instrumental or undercooked. “I haven’t finished this one yet” say the liner notes on the stripped-down and fragmentary “WOTW/POTP.” It’s an astonishing, unsafe step from a band who could have just kept giving us “Something Like This.”
There are ambient sounds and snippets from films, including the documentaries “Everything Is Incredible” and “Fela Kuti: Music is the Weapon.” The band even seems to reference themselves (“Boom bo-boom boom” from “X Marks the Spot.”) Sometimes it feels less than an album and more like a multimedia project.
Fans will find that, sonically, the band has stepped off the dance floor. The new music is less bombastic and more intimate. “Old Friends” is a mournful ode to loss, while “Daddy” is sung from the heartbreaking perspective of an abandoned child. “Daddy are you OK?/Look dad we got the same hair.” There’s even spots of gospel and funk-jazz. Mark Kennedy, AP