By Manny Vasquez
Well no one was expecting that.
Friday saw the release of a new Coldplay single, “Adventure of a Lifetime.” Since this song is fairly new, these are only my initial reactions, which may be the most honest. On “Adventure of A Lifetime” Coldplay basically goes disco. It’s a funky track, closer to Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” or something from Earth, Wind, and Fire than well-known Coldplay tracks like “Viva La Vida,” “Clocks,” or even their most recent album, “Ghost Stories.”
The tracks funk style is sure to be divisive among Coldplay fans. Coldplay is an anomaly in the music industry in that their musical style changes drastically from album to album. Their pop-tinged 2011 album “Mylo Xyloto” was a far cry from last years ambient “Ghost Stories,” and both of those bear little musical resemblance to their acclaimed album “A Rush of Blood To The Head.” This new single continues the trend of an ever changing style, but may in turn create yet another division among fans of the group. As mentioned above, the song more closely resembles Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” than the average Coldplay song. While many Coldplay fans, myself included, may occasionally enjoy listening to disco influenced songs, Coldplay’s main fan group has “rock” as its core interest.
Despite the group’s new sound, the track still has many things traditional Coldplay fans will enjoy. The song features many classic Coldplay elements that were missing from last years single “A Sky Full of Stars.” On this new single, Jonny Buckland’s chiming guitar riffs return, as do Chris Martin’s complex singing patterns (even if the lines themselves are pretty straightforward). The song also features a rocking drum part from Will Champion, returning to a traditional drum set after being behind a drum machine for “Ghost Stories.” Fans will also enjoy bassist Guy Berryman’s intricate and melodic bass lines, which are featured prominently throughout the track. It’s Coldplay covered in textures fans may not recognize, but it’s still Coldplay.
In many ways, the song is very much a jam that was turned into a pop song. I could see, with different production and slight changes to the melody, this sound fitting on 2005’s “X&Y.” The basic outline of the song could easily have been taken in a space-rock direction, rather than a pop one. While longtime Coldplay fans may have enjoyed that direction more, this song is not completely isolating to long time fans, though perhaps middling. The melody is also, while not Coldplay’s best, an improvement on songs like “A Sky Full of Stars” and “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall,” being far more intricate.
At around the 3:30 mark, the track even starts to sound more than a bit like the Beatles tracks “It’s Only Love.” That melody is arguably closer to the traditional Coldplay sound. Personally, I would have liked to have heard more of that, as it is the most memorable part of the song. And that is one of the most difficult things about this track. It’s a very good disco hit, but the elements of a great Coldplay song are all there, they just weren’t necessarily capitalized on. The song could have been a spacey endeavor, and in some ways still is, but instead it goes more into the group’s “pop direction,” which though may make it a radio hit may also be seen as a missed opportunity by Coldplay’s most loyal fans.
The worst thing about the track is its production. At times, it’s okay. The guitar sounds great the whole time, so that’s a plus. Will Champion’s drum part is great, but is only occasionally done justice by the production. Too many times it is drowned out by the many sounds going on in the track, and that is truly a shame. The same can be said for the bass. While Berryman’s playing is prominently featured, at times even it becomes hard to distinguish. And while it is fun the first time when the fades out, leaving only vocals and bass guitar, one time was enough. Revisiting that trick multiple times, as the track does, makes it sound a tad too generic, as if they are very consciously trying to get the song into the club scene. This would be fine, but admittedly it does sound forced the second time around. It’s not a big issue, but I fear that the “being forced” sound may hurt the entire album when it comes out. Another issue is that, while cool, the psychedelic voices looping in the background distract from the song at times. Personally, I wouldn’t have kept them in the whole time, as I think with Jonny’s guitar riff they make the entire thing a little too busy at times, and I would rather be able to closely enjoy what the band is playing. But that’s a minor qualm.
Speaking of the album, for all the flaws this track might have to many listeners, I believe it has the chance to sound very good on the finished album, better than it does as a single. With the background effects and the small “shoegaze” influence, I could see elements of this song serving as “motifs across the album. The song’s production, though maligned in many areas, gives the vibe that the album will be meant to be listened to as a whole, almost as a journey. While it is impossible to judge the entire album from this single, the song’s production does seem to be evidence of a very complex album production wise. Perhaps the tracks diverse style will mean their upcoming album will be an incredibly diverse one, much like Viva La Vida, which featured many styles of music. So while this new single may not appeal to all fans, it may point to an album that has a little bit of something for everyone.
Final consensus: it’s a great disco song, but not what Coldplay fans were expecting. Still, enough familiar attributes are there that it won’t completely isolate many fans, though it may be seen as a “missed opportunity to them. Though production may raise concern for “A Head Full of Dream,” the diversity of the track may mean that album could be a unique treat.