If the kaleidoscopic joy of 2015’s A Head Full of Dreams feels like a distant memory now, that’s natural—it was a different time. In the four years since we last heard from Coldplay, the world has grown more chaotic. “Not that there hasn’t always been craziness,” frontman Chris Martin tells Apple Music, “but it’s so in-your-face all the time. It can only make you feel like—it doesn’t matter the consequence, you have to sing what’s coming through.” In response comes Everyday Life, a double album that finds arguably this century’s biggest and most agreeable rock band attempting to inspire unity, at considerable cost and risk. “It’s very true to us,” Martin says. “That’s all I know.”
They’ve organized the album conceptually. The first half, Sunrise, opens with strings both somber and hopeful. “It’s the challenges we see happening in our lives and in lots of other people’s lives,” Martin explains. The second, Sunset, is “a bit more, ‘How might you meet those challenges? How can one go on?’” That side kicks off with “Guns,” an acoustic number in which Martin references Dylan and skewers American gun violence, deadpanning, “Melt down all the trumpets, all the trombones and the drums/Who needs education or a thousand splendid suns?” It’s the most urgent and overtly political they’ve sounded since 2002’s “Politik,” which was recorded in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Unlike their most recent output, Everyday Life is similarly raw, interspersed with snippets of ambient sound that lend the album familiar texture: street noise, birdsong, a tense exchange between motorist and police officer. When Martin takes to his piano and sings alongside a gospel chorus in “BrokEn,” you feel like you’re sitting in church a few feet away from them.
While much of the record errs on the side of understatement, there are anthems and grand gestures as well. On “Arabesque,” the entire band joins forces with Femi Kuti’s Positive Force for a feverish Afrobeat groove that, in addition to a verse in French, features the central refrain: “We share the same blood.” That message rings throughout Everyday Life, from the open-armed, choir-led embrace of “Orphans”—where Guy Berryman’s bassline sets a new gold standard for buoyancy—to the spoken-word immediacy of “بنی آدم” to the twilight skywriting of closing duo “Champion of the World” and the title track. “Everyone hurts, everyone cries, everyone tells each other all kinds of lies,” Martin sings on the latter. “Everyone falls, everybody dreams and doubts/Got to keep dancing when the lights go out.”