Coldplay’s new songs ‘Orphans’ and ‘Arabesque’ – reviewed: Jazzier! Classic rock-ier! Fun-er!

They're back, baby – and Chris Martin and co. might just the tonic we need right now

Coldplay are back with two new tracks! All the way from 1919, if the posters (above), quaint local newspaper classifieds and arch, typewritten notes teasing their return are to be believed. But – surprise! – these tracks find Coldplay sounding both modern – riding the nu-jazz wave – and classic, like your dad’s Top Gear car CD, and sounding as assured as they ever have done. 

Of the two new songs unveiled today (October 24), ‘Orphans’ is the most typically Coldplay-y in that we have your average straining-on-the-bog vocal from Chris Martin and that mood of euphoria tinged with a bit of the bittersweet that they’ve made their own. But this is Coldplay – for a long time now one of the world’s biggest rock bands – sounding more like a big rock band than they have before. So we have ‘Sympathy For The Devil’-style “whoop woo“s via The Rolling Stones, a guitar groove that brings to mind ‘Jessica’ by The Allman Brothers and the feeling of an early Fleetwood Mac jam. Those posters may have shown the band posing in what purports to be 1919; here it feels like they’re beaming in from 1973 instead, in the best possible way. 


‘Arabesque’, meanwhile, is all about the mood – the mood largely being that of Stone Roses’s ‘Love Spreads’.  It has a shuffling beat, itchy guitars and more than a touch of the ol’ Manc swagger (well, they did go to university up there). It finds Coldplay in less familiar territory than ‘Orphans’, in that it has French vocals (tres bon, Chris!) and a sax freakout that shifts the song into a modern jazz piece that couldn’t be more in tune with the nu-jazz zeitgeist (think: Comet Is Coming, Kokokokoko, Sons Of Kemet) if it tried. Which evidently it did. It’s the kind of song that might have Noel Gallagher wondering why he hadn’t written it first – it’s exactly the kind of grown-up experimental rock Gallagher senior has been threatening to make for years. 

Seeing how musicians react to the global clusterfuck situation we find ourselves in is an interesting sport these days. And Coldplay, of all bands, have more right to return with a triple concept album about sinking ship Britain being swallowed by the rising tides and crashing waves of climate change than most, having long between outspoken about the environment and social justice. Chris Martin today described the album as “our reaction to the perceived negativity that’s everywhere. And there is a lot of trouble, but there’s also so much positivity and so much great life happening. So in a way, it’s just trying to make sense of things, saying what we feel and what we see.”

Interestingly, these tracks promise nuance, a rounded picture and an album that will surprise and delight. Which, in these days of polarised arguments and shouting and the endless noise of this total cuntopia we live in… sounds pretty good. Maybe this was the point of Coldplay all along.

READ MORE: OPINION – Welcome back, Coldplay, even hipsters secretly think you’re brilliant