You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Review: Coldplay’s ‘Kaleidoscope’ EP

The term “EP” may officially stand for Extended Play, but it’s more of an Expectant Pause or a stopgap release for an artist who’s marking time, waiting for the muse or a sense of direction to strike. Coldplay’s five-song “Kaleidoscope” arrived Friday (July 14) as a belated “companion piece” to 2015’s “A Head Full of Dreams,” and seems very much a stopgap, despite frontman Chris Martin’s hemmed-and-hawed 2016 comments to Zane Lowe saying “I’d be surprised if there was another conventional Coldplay album.” This teaser skirts the question of whether a proper TBD follow-up full-length will have them returning to their old rock-band ways or fully accepting the recent embrace of the EDM-pop world. For now, they’ll still have it both ways, thank you very much.

Maybe even more than placating impatient fans with a modest dose of new material, “Kaleidoscope” services the timely purpose of giving Coldplay a chance to put their hit collaboration with the Chainsmokers, “Something Just Like This,” on one of their own releases. This live recording, subtitled “Tokyo Remix,” effectively replicates the smash original with added Japanese applause and singing along. When the video of the studio version was released in February, it broke a one-day YouTube record and has since racked up a half-billion views, so you can understand why Coldplay would prefer the Chainsmokers not bogart that joint.

“Something Just Like This” is the silliest song on “Kaleidoscope” — you could say dumbest, too, but that seems a little strong for a piece of bro-baiting this innocuous. Fortunately, there are other life signs along the way to reassure the old-timer fan base that Coldplay has a future beyond being a “feature” on somebody else’s project or even dragging a bevy of Top 40 favorites onto their own.

The EP’s opening track, “All I Can Think About You,” stands as the best thing they’ve done in quite a few years, not just because it’s the most traditionally rock track on the set, with its sinewy bass, pretty piano, and slow, old-school rim shots. It also nicely encapsulates mixed emotions, somewhere between the woe-is-me balladry of “Ghost Stories” and gee-whiz positivity of “Head Full of Dreams.” “Chaos giving orders, everything is upside down,” sings Martin, capturing (sort of) the international mood of the moment, before things get more grandiose a little less than three minutes in. A listener might wish the whole track stayed as downbeat as it starts, but if begrudging Coldplay their anthemic intentions is pretty much begrudging Coldplay entirely.

They don’t stay in that traditional four-piece mode for long. The second track, “Miracles (Something Special),” has Will Champion trading in his sticks again for drum programming — we should get used to that — and offers the obligatory inter-genre guest feature from rapper Big Sean. It sounds terrific for all that, too, even if you may be inclined to take the lyric, in which Martin recalls his progressive dad extolling Mohammed, Gandhi, Mandela, Mother Teresa, and Amelia Earhart as example-setting heroes, with a hyper-inspirational grain of salt. “A L I E N S,” a parable about refugees, benefits the Migrant Offshore Aid Station, and it also benefits from the novelty of an odd time signature that keeps you as much on your toes as the fleeing title figures.

If it’s the mellow gold of “Yellow” that you crave, though, there’s the closing “Hypnotized,” which circles back around to the opening track’s promotion romantic idealism as a cure for “the news” as well as “the blues.” More than any single genre or style — “Kaleidoscope” makes it quite clear that they’re still malleable on that — Chris Martin is consciously coupling himself with an unrelenting sense of the upbeat. For the moment, at least, even in the midst of what he himself alludes to as a dystopia, Martin remains rock’s sunniest Brit.

Review: Coldplay's 'Kaleidoscope' EP

More Music

  • R. Kelly

    R. Kelly Accusers Detail Abuse, Reveal Evidence on 'Dateline'

    The continuing controversy surrounding R. Kelly, including allegations of sexual abuse by a number of women over three decades, was the focus of Friday’s episode of “Dateline.” Speaking to accusers Sparkle, Jerhonda Pace and parents Tim and Jonjelyn Savage, among others, NBC’s Andrea Canning heard more harrowing tales of abduction and sexual misconduct on the part [...]

  • Huey Lewis

    BMG Signs Huey Lewis and the News

    Huey Lewis and the News, the band that soundtracked much of the 1980s, will return with a new album in 2019. The group has signed with BMG, the company announced today (Jan. 18), setting the stage for the tenth studio album and the first time they’re releasing original music in 18 years. Formed by Lewis [...]

  • Jordan Feldstein

    Roc Nation Seeks $11 Million From Insurer in Jordan Feldstein's Death

    Roc Nation filed a federal lawsuit Friday seeking $11 million from its insurance carrier following the death of Maroon 5 manager Jordan Feldstein. Roc Nation, a joint venture of Jay-Z and Live Nation Entertainment, partnered with Feldstein’s Career Artist Management in 2016. At the time, Roc Nation says it took out a “key man” life [...]

  • mike-posner

    Album Review: Mike Posner's 'A Real Good Kid'

    From the tone of such hits as his 2010 debut “Cooler Than Me” and 2015’s  “I Took A Pill In Ibiza,” singing, songwriting pop-hop beardo Mike Posner had a seemingly breezy take on life, love and responsibility. If you could have squeezed together the two Justins — Timberlake and Bieber (Posner has written for the latter) [...]

  • neyla pekarek

    Neyla Pekarek on Leaving the Lumineers and Her 'Women-Empowering' Solo Debut

    “I feel really liberated to be releasing my own record and my own music,” says cellist and singer Neyla Pekarek, who, in October, announced her departure from folk band the Lumineers. Now signed to S-Curve Records as a solo artist, her debut album “Rattlesnake” drops Friday. “I would definitely call this record a feminist record, a [...]

  • Fyre Festival Documentaries: The 10 Most

    Fyre Festival Documentaries: The 10 Most Outrageous Moments

    It is perhaps only fitting that two documentaries about the disastrous Fyre Festival, one of the most high-profile fraudulent failures in history, would arrive during the same week — a fitting cap on a tragicomedy of errors that, as both films outline in excruciating detail, unfolded like a slow-motion plane crash in the spring of [...]

  • Oscars Predictions 2018 Illustration

    Academy Awards: Final Oscar Predictions in All Categories

    Nominations for the 91st Academy Awards will be announced on Tuesday, Jan. 22. Below are In Contention’s final predictions in all 24 categories. Bradley Cooper’s “A Star Is Born” and Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma” lead the way with 10 expected nominations apiece, while we forecast eight for Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Favourite” and seven each for Damien [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content