The Coldplay of today are nothing like the wet-haired band we saw singing Yellow on a grey English beach 21 years ago. Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland, Guy Berryman, Will Champion and Phil Harvey are living a technicolour life and, by going full pop on their ninth album, will disappoint those who prefer the misery.
Music of the Spheres, largely produced by Max Martin, one of the biggest pop creators of the past 30 years, doesn’t just explore the depths of outer space; it calls on big names to launch this new mission. Going intergalactic means the band can experiment with Kaotican, a language they’ve been developing since 2008’s Viva la Vida, to promote the album. According to Martin, the planet Kaotica shelters outcasts, rejects and aliens. So hop in, guys. We’re all invited.
Lead single Higher Power contains a manic energy that either comes from extreme wealth or happiness – as a mere earthling myself, not a rich musician, it’s hard to say which, exactly. Touching on the feelgood psychedelia of The Flaming Lips, Chris Martin pitches his vocals so that he can duet with his alien self on Biutyful. Selena Gomez appears for a more traditional duet on the stratospheric love song Let Somebody Go, and K-pop superstars BTS – who are already out of this world – steal the limelight on My Universe.
The Coldplay quintet, who met and formed in 1996 at University College London, switched from sensitive rockers to inspirational pop titans circa 2005’s X&Y, meaning that their music will forever soundtrack an Olympic Games montage. Humankind, with its stadium synths and reassuring chorus (“I know, I know, I know we’re only human”), is built to repair moments of weakness. And by sampling the “Olé, olé, olé” chant on Infinity Sound, that Marmite crowd noise matches the divide Coldplay’s music garners while paying tribute to their devout fans.
Coloratura is a 10-minute odyssey that sees electronic producer Jon Hopkins and string experts Davide Rossi and John Metcalfe perform as the celestial orchestra. It’s named after the operatic singing style that features runs, leaps, trills and javelin throws, and is the final stop on the album’s fictional solar system. Marvelling at Earth from afar, Martin reminds us that “in the end it’s all about the love you’re sending out”.
Coldplay are as optimistic as Christian summer camp counsellors, their purity
unparalleled. Ambitious and suitably ridiculous, Music of the Spheres is a natural but overly saccharine progression for one of the biggest bands in the world. Some millionaires jet off to space – Coldplay generously bring space to us.