On “Trouble In Town,” the third track on Coldplay’s 2019 LP Everyday Life, the band places a rather disturbing sound clip of a police officer rudely interrogating someone — this comes after Chris Martin’s solemn lament on unequal power structures and how they always “add more police,” and before a full-band psychedelic freak out of an outro, which is not necessarily what you’d associate with Coldplay.
This was not an anomaly on the record; Everyday Life featured Coldplay at their most experimental, their most vital, and playing the riskiest music they’ve made in years. But what’s more, is that it sounded like Coldplay had changed, that over a span of 20 years as a band, they were almost more weathered and rugged.
Fast forward to two years later; Coldplay have released their ninth studio album Music of the Spheres today (October 15th), and unfortunately, little-to-none of that change is present.
Coldplay have really outdone themselves on Music of the Spheres, and not necessarily in a good way — they’ve never made music this overwhelmingly general, with so few risks and so little nuance. The album — which was produced by ultimate pop whisperer Max Martin — is covered in a plastic sheen, filled with generic statements about love and humanity, and completely oblivious to its own plight.
Music of the Spheres is supposedly a concept album: Martin was reportedly inspired by the fictional cantina band in Star Wars and wondered “what musicians are like across the universe.” If this was their jumping off point, frankly, none of that comes across.
Each song on this album (except “People of the Pride,” which we’ll get to) is undeniably Coldplay, with little experimentation and as many big, gigantic “para-para-paradise”-style choruses as possible. Since their 2011 album Mylo Xyloto, Coldplay have been on a quest to make stadium-sized pop music that reaches towards the largest emotions, and while it has worked well in certain cases, it’s getting harder to tolerate this baseline level of effort.