In the past year, the biggest bands in the world have embraced the future by lurching in a new direction, for better or worse. Muse went gung-ho Depeche Mode with ‘Dig Down’. Arcade Fire went Americana ABBA with ‘Everything Now’. The Killers turned into disco titans with ‘The Man’. Big bands are giving it their all to avoid sinking into a rut. Even Coldplay, the magnificent but much-maligned stadium giants who could sell millions for decades, are still willing to test the leftfield with an EP like ‘Kaleidoscope’.
A sister-piece to 2015’s ‘A Head Full of Dreams’ – the band’s most Magaluf record yet, crammed full of hits – this EP is a continuation of Chris Martin and co’s pop dominance. There’s a live-in-Japan version of ‘Something Just Like This’, the woofer-quaking one-off collaboration with The Chainsmokers that marked Coldplay’s utmost immersion into EDM. Clearly on a mission to rule over all of popular music, ‘Miracles (Someone Special)’ even finds their indie tentacles reaching into synthetic R&B, guest rapper Big Sean cooing a verse about staying in school over slick electro funk while Chris Martin delivers a characteristically inspirational lyric about finding the Mandela, Ali and Gandhi within yourself.
But the rest of the EP is a glorious return to Coldplay’s mid-’00s explorative period. Opening track ‘All I Can Think About Is You’ begins as a dusky, ambient Radiohead art-throb in which a muffled Martin mumbles about “chaos giving orders”, sounding as if he’s hiding underwater from the political nightmares of 2017. Then, three minutes in, familiar ‘Clocks’ piano chords kick in and the tune becomes a celestial scream of adoration, love rising above Trumpageddon.
‘A L I E N S’, a collaboration with Brian Eno, is even more outré, mingling Spanish guitar with space-age synths. These five tracks climax with ‘Hypnotised’, a solemn country swooner resembling John Lennon’s ‘Mother’, easily their best barnstorming ballad since ‘Fix You’. It’s heartening evidence that Coldplay haven’t entirely been sucked into the machinery while trying to subvert pop music from within. Is it too much to hope that their Avicii period was the experiment, and this the return to the norm?