07 November 2015

Single Review: Coldplay - Adventure of a Lifetime

Coldplay's first release of 2015 promises great things for next month's A Head Full of Dreams, writes David Williams.

Dropping tracks - or even whole albums - without any prior promotion is a marketing technique that's grown increasingly popular over the last few years. Even Coldplay themselves dropped their pulsing (and pretty damn great) Jon Hopkins collaboration Midnight without any forewarning in February of last year, in something of a departure from their usual publicity strategy.

While Adventure of a Lifetime and A Head Full of Dreams weren't completely bereft of advance marketing, you had to be pretty canny - and visit the right places - to actually see any of it. The main indicators were massive posters, mostly prominently in London Underground stations, featuring the flower of life, which is the centrepiece of the album artwork (see below right), and a date: 4 December. And there were some rumblings that a single was imminent from Monday onwards. I'm not sure how much of a surprise the band's appearance on BBC Radio was supposed to be, but I at least was well aware of it the day before. 

To the general public though, this has probably all come unexpected, especially less than eighteen months after the release of sixth studio LP Ghost Stories. This is actually the second track from the album that we've heard - the first being Amazing Day, performed live at the Global Citizen event in September - and I must say it's by far my favourite so far.

The first single from almost all of Coldplay's previous albums has been some kind of upbeat, relatively crowd-pleasing anthem - such as tracks like In My Place, Speed of Sound and Every Teardrop is a Waterfall - and Adventure of a Lifetime is no different. That doesn't mean that it's your bog-standard Coldplay single though; far from it. This new album has been produced by Stargate, the Norweigan duo responsible for just shy of fifty top-ten hits (including regular collaborations with artists like Rihanna, Katy Perry and Ylvis) and you can certainly see the influence they've had.

The opening is classic 'Coldplay trying a new direction'. I wouldn't go as far as to call it a fusion of cultures but the combination of almost Indian tingling and hard guitar strokes and crashes certainly makes for unusual listening. Before long though this stuff, which is probably the weakest part of the song, is out of the way and we're into a track whose drum and bass section reminded this listener of Daft Punk's 2013 hit Get Lucky, which is no bad thing. It does have a twist but the comparison is easily drawn over the inciting instrumental. Getting into the song proper proved a pleasure, with a catchy beat and an extremely palatable mix of sounds combining to create a tone that is more mainstream than Coldplay have ever gone before.

The overall ethos of the song isn't unfamiliar, however. It's the usual mash of the heart-warming, earworms (such as "I'm a dream/I die by light of day") and the cringeworthy ("Turn your magic on") so if you enjoyed prior albums like X&Y and Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends then you'll most likely enjoy this track. After learning the title of the song on Thursday, I was sincerely hoping it wouldn't feature in the main chorus, as that rarely goes well in a Coldplay song and thankfully it's replaced by the much more melodic "You make me feel/Like I'm alive again".

In summary, I absolutely love the production of this track and think it is instrumentally sound. Some of the lyrics are a bit naff, but that's the charm of this band. I love the single's artwork - the album's less so - and hope this design language continues throughout this era. The video should also be interesting, at least partly shot in India and involving lots of paint, and I expect that will be out within a week. Looking ahead to the album as a whole, I'm definitely excited - particularly for lead single Hymn for the Weekend - but I know that for every Hurts Like Heaven there will be an Up in Flames. In short, though, this is uplifting, catchy and fresh.

Adventure of a Lifetime is a great track to kickstart a new era of Coldplay's career.

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