Described as a companion piece to their 2015 foray into clubbing territory A Head Full of Dreams, Coldplay’s Kaleidoscope EP is more a celebration of Coldplay’s musical past and a sneak peek into what their future might hold than an extension of that record, making it a must-have for Coldplay diehards – but is there enough to captivate the casual listener?
‘All I Can Think About Is You’ is a mild start for the EP, Chris Martin’s ghastly vocals gradually creeping their way over a simple beat and guitar riff reminiscient of Coldplay’s earliest record Parachutes or even a Ghost Stories B-side. Gradually a phrase right from the divisive 2011 Mylo Xyloto joins the mix before the song explodes into a soundscape similar to those created in the Brian Eno-produced Viva La Vida.
“Don’t expect this to drop in the club anytime soon”
This allows the track to segue perfectly into ‘Miracles (Someone Special)’, which seems to exist to capitalise on the unprecedented success of Coldplay’s clubbier tracks, none the least ‘Something Just Like This’. Martin’s – um, rapping – is joined by the soundbites and de-contextualized inspirational quotes (taken from Back to the Future, no less) which are littered throughout A Head Full of Dreams, making the song easy listening (and guaranteed to put the same goofy smile on your face only the cheesiest of Coldplay’s songs can), but altogether weaker than anything else in this vein the fourpiece have dared to do so far – don’t expect this to drop in the club anytime soon.
“Tackles some pretty hefty issues”
‘A L I E N S’ is far better, evoking X&Y classic ‘Talk’ and underrated Mylo Xyolto B-side ‘Moving to Mars’, using synths to enhance the dark and atmospheric driving riff rather than allowing them to dominate the song. As well as being by far the most musically interesting song on the EP, for once Martin tackles some pretty hefty issues, describing the plights of refugees fleeing warzones and being alienated from the societies to which they flee.
‘A L I E N S’ is followed by a song that needs to introduction – the song of 2017 so far, Coldplay and The Chainsmokers’ ‘Something Just Like This’. Unfortunately the Tokyo Remix present on this EP, incorporating excessive amounts of crowd noise, loses the immediacy of the original, but it’s great to know that the song itself holds up on a record after four months of radio overkill.
“Simple piano chords which have been the basis for Coldplay’s biggest ballads”
The EP closes with ‘Hypnotised’, another song built around early-Coldplay nostalgia, and infinitely better than the skippable ‘All I Can Think About is You’. Luckily the music – driven by the simple piano chords which have been the basis for Coldplay’s biggest ballads to date and sprinkled with magical music dust which makes the song actually sound like the inside of a Kaleidoscope – justifies Martin’s quintessentially cheesy lyrics (‘Float like an eagle, Fall like the rain’). This is a song you can listen to laying on a dewy patch of grass staring at the stars – a ‘guidebook for the blues’, perhaps, but one which ensures the five-track ends on a high note.
Unfortunately not even this gem of a song is enough to sell Kaleidoscope – too much of the EP is too underwhelming and too familiar, the single version of ‘Something Just Like This’ is far superior and Coldplay’s last EP, the 2008 Prospekt’s March, is better in every way. What Kaleidoscope is is a nice little curio and proof of the band’s musical diversity, but also a record which seems to scream of trying to stay relevant, proof that if Coldplay continue to ride the coattails of other bands’ success or their own nostalgia, they will quickly run out of original steam, no matter how commercially successful they continue to be.
Image courtesy of Coldplay website.