Here we are, a whole 15 years after Coldplay released their debut album 'Parachutes'.Chris Martin and co. are certainly a very different-sounding band to the meticulously-crafted, unaffected indie-rock they peddled a decade and a half ago; and if the rumours are to be believed, A Head Full of Dreams is their last album after their frontman compared it to 'the last Harry Potter book.'
If nothing else, their seventh record is certainly a more upbeat album than 2014's maudlin 'Ghost Stories', written in the wake of Martin's infamous 'conscious uncoupling' with Gwyneth Paltrow. Yet while it is comparatively bustling with energy and life, there are not a whole lot of risks amidst its ballad/singalong anthem-heavy tracklisting.
In other words, A Head Full of Dreams sounds exactly how you might expect a Coldplay album to – despite the presence Beyoncé, Noel Gallagher and Tove Lo as guest performers. They even sample Barack Obama singing 'Amazing Grace' on 'Kaleidoscope' (alongside a spoken word recitation by poet Coleman Barks) resulting in an unbearable stench of smugness. The one exception to the rule is 'Hymn for the Weekend', with Beyoncé on backing vocals, Avicii on programming and Martin doing his best 'Coldplay goes clubbing' effort - but their sense of derring-do is sorely lacking throughout.
Lyrically, Martin may have moved on from his relationship with Paltrow, but the spectre of their relationship looms large on the bittersweet 'Fun', which sees him reflect: "The fighting is over, the fighting is done / But didn't we have fun?". The actress also provides backing vocals on dreary ballad 'Everglow', one of few tracks that isn't celebrating the new mystery objection of his affection, as heard on the title track's "There are miracles at work / You've got me lost for words". Just as well – that could have been awkward.
If this really is the equivalent of 'the last Harry Potter' book in the Coldplay story, it's certainly lacking a similarly explosive ending. Perhaps in that respect, it's fitting that Coldplay go out with a whimper rather than a snarl. Shut the door on the way out, lads.