2 out of 5 from The Guardian.
That's about right.
I don't disagree with their take on some of the music based on what I've heard so far, but I do genuinely despise this narrative of a 'desperate pop pivot'. It suggests that working with the likes of Max Martin, who is a deeply talented writer and producer, to create pop music deserves derision and scorn. I appreciate this is nothing new as pop music has been thrown under the bus by music critics for a good 50 years, but Coldplay have been in the firing line with this same critique for 10 years now. This isn't really a 'pop pivot' considering the band have released pure pop music off and on again since 'Mylo Xyloto' in 2011. The suggestion that this album is a sudden contrived plea for relevance and success is absurd.
The pattern for Coldplay, cognitively or otherwise, for the last decade has been an album of uplifting pop songs followed by an album that was darker in tone, then back again. The Guardian review writes of 'Everyday Life':
It dabbled in African music, doo-wop and gospel and included what appeared to be an unfinished demo – yet it was far from the kind of up-yours gesture to which artists who have tired of adulation are often prone. It still clearly wanted to be loved by a mass audience.
I don't understand what the writer wants from them. There's an air of disdain about the experimentation with style on 'Everyday Life' and the suggestion that at least one song sounded unpalatably raw, but in the same sentence he implies it should have been more experimental because the album played too safe?
The residual gatekeeping of the late 90s NME and Q Magazine era of music journalism where you had to perform heteronormative indie rock to be considered valid artists still seeps into critics' Coldplay discourse. It is deeply frustrating as it seemingly denies everything the band have done for 10 years. I didn't need a Coldplay collaboration with BTS or with Selena Gomez in my life, but how is it any different from collaborating with Rhianna, Beyoncé, Kylie Minogue or Avicii? Coldplay are still being held hostage by an expectation that they are going to make 'A Rush Of Blood To The Head, Part II' which willfully and ungenerously ignores almost 20 years of music they have released since. Alexis Petridis' comment here that Coldplay have made a 'realisation' that they prefer pop instead of rock is utterly moronic and at least a decade too late.
Even though I am already anticipating that 'Music Of The Spheres' won't be as enjoyable for me as 'Everyday Life' was, the comment that it is 'undignified' to make this type of music is the same entitled pop-bashing that Coldplay have endured for what feels like a lifetime. They have always struck me as nice, humble musicians who imbue what they do with sincerity, honouring and respecting all the different types of records they have made. Their ability to create joy for a live audience, especially in stadium settings, is second to none, and they have made use of their privileged platform to invest in many charitable causes over their career. All music is a matter of taste and I completely appreciate that 'Music Of The Spheres' won't suit the tastes of a lot of people (perhaps even myself included) but the endless s**tkicking of this band feels cruelly unnecessary at this point.