A Track-by-Track Review of the Best Band in the World’s Newest EP
Anyone who has known me for even five minutes knows that I don’t fuck around when it comes to Coldplay.
You probably disagree with the way I label them in the title and are more than welcome to fight me on it but just know that you’re wrong. Just saying.
Sure, I might be a little biased in this review. But objectivity is boring. If you want an objective analysis of Coldplay as the best band in the world, that’s not what I’m here for. (But I will note that they regularly sell out entire STADIUMS all over the world.)
Alright. I’m not going to defend Coldplay any more. Let’s talk about their new EP, Kaleidoscope.
Track #1: All I Can Think About Is You
Although it takes almost a whole minute of spacey instrumental music to get to some of Chris Martin’s light and airy vocals, it’s well worth the wait. The pulsating drums and bass keep the track moving until we get into the Atlas-esque (see: Coldplay’s first single after their fifth album, Mylo Xyloto) portion of the song, with heavy piano, bombastic drums, and Johnny Buckland’s wailing guitar solo. This is an excellent song that probably will fly under the radar of most.
Track #2: Miracles (Someone Special) with Big Sean
Originally penned as “Miracles 2”, I expected this song to sound similar to its precursor, a single released for Unbroken, the Angelina Jolie-directed war film. (Admittedly this thinking was influenced by B.o.B’s Airplanes/Airplanes, Pt. 2 succession — both great songs that I know the entire rap to, by the way.) Rather, the only similarities are light acoustic guitar in the background and the occasional drumstick click/snap sound used in the chorus. The lyrical themes are not similar whatsoever.
Upon first listen, I thought that something was wrong with my headphones, as the song cut out twice. Then I realized this was really just an attention-grabbing device that I kind of appreciate — this kind of total stop is underused in todays popular music.
I also appreciate the use of a Back to the Future quote thrown into the beginning: “I mean, what if they say I’m no good? What if they say ‘Get out of here kid, you’ve got no future!’” I was first introduced to this technique in songs by fellow British band Bastille, who utilized it in about half their songs on Wild World (quite successfully, I might add).
Then, let’s talk Big Sean. The only other time Coldplay featured a rapper on one of their songs was with Lost+ feat. Jay-Z (which had three other versions of the same song), so this was the band’s first time featuring a rapper on the first draft of the song. I don’t know a lot of Big Sean’s music so I was skeptical, but I really enjoyed his verse, as it kept with the song’s theme of achieving goals and the struggle of success. With nice backing instrumentation, this is a high-quality track.
Track #3: A L I E N S
FINALLY! A alt/rock/pop song is in the 5/4 time signature! I absolutely love this time signature — so much that I wrote a lick in it that my band turned into a song:
I actually really love A L I E N S. (I’ll never understand the letter spacing, but I’ll get over it.) This song has been in production since at least 2009 (it was teased in an interview video that year), and it certainly paid off. I have never heard a song anything like this, which I believe is one of Coldplay’s goals as a band. I think they most succeeded this goal with their fourth album, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends, where they brought an entirely new sound to the table with an entire LP of songs that compliment it.
A L I E N S is great because of how much is going on. Yes, they say less is more, but if a lot of moving pieces work in harmony, amazing things happen. Little guitar riffs and synth strings make the song so much more interesting. However, I do wish the drums were a little more intense and less out-of-the-picture.
I’ll admit, I don’t love the bridge of the song, where Chris Martin sing-talks in a low voice from the perspective of the aliens. It is an awkward part that doesn’t really seem necessary, but it ultimately saved by the outro, where it sounds as if the whole band is singing a Bowie-like verse about space. The ending of the song is fantastic and makes me long for more. The lyric video that was released with the song was a nice touch, too.
Track #4: Something Just Like This — Tokyo Remix with The Chainsmokers
Okay first of all this isn’t REALLY a remix, but just a live performance of the song (in Tokyo) and a solid one at that.
Yes, this song is simplistic in nature. I mean, it was written with The Chainsmokers, so naturally there are only three chords in the entire song. And yes, this song is perfect for all the haters to point to and say “Hey look! Coldplay sold out again!”
But if you don’t find this a pleasing song to listen to, you are in the minority. Approaching 500 million streams on Spotify and having already surpassed that number on Youtube, this may be Coldplay’s most wide-reaching song to date.
This live version is pretty good, but my one issue comes with the second half of Johnny’s solo. While in the recording, it packs punch that makes it stand out from the first half, this version felt rather weak in comparison, which is a shame for such an excellent guitar riff.
Trach #5: Hypnotised — EP Mix
While this tune was released a few months ago, the EP version features a nice, soothing intro to an already pleasing song.
When it first came out, the first thought that came to mind was that it was a combination of both old and new Coldplay. The lyrics and bass could easily come off of Parachutes, the closing strings parallel X&Y, and the piano riff and guitar solo are reminiscent of Ghost Stories.
Everyone thought Coldplay was over after A Head Full Of Dreams because Chris suggested in an interview that the album brought the band full circle. To quote the creator of PopCandie, “I thought that Rainbow record from last year was gonna be their last or something”.
First of all, this isn’t true because Coldplay will never die. Second, I believe Chris really meant for this EP to be what brought the band full circle, and the closing track does an excellent job of doing so. The closing song of AHFOD, Up&Up — one of my favorite songs, was originally supposed to fill this role, but Coldplay knew they weren’t done (they still had A L I E N S to finish!) and Hypnotised instead served as the song that ended this first era of Coldplay.
The first three tracks are excellent, the “remix” is solid, and the closing track does its job perfectly.