Coldplay have never stopped reaching for the stars, and will seemingly not rest until they can find out what it feels like to actually be up there.
Their determination to grow taller and move faster has been broadcast across increasingly shiny productions over the last few years, with some glittering collaborators: the late, great Avicii co-produced 2014’s mammoth single ‘A Sky Full of Stars’; Beyoncé, Annabelle Wallis and Merry Clayton provided backing vocals on 2015’s hopeful album closer ‘Up & Up’; and late Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchinson is credited as a co-writer on the bittersweet 2019 track ‘Champion of the World’, singing about “flying on my bicycle / heading upwards from the Earth.”
And ‘Higher Power’ takes everything Coldplay have learned from a lifetime of dreaming and finally launches their talent into outer space – literally.
“Right now we aren’t able to play for anybody on Earth, so we thought we’d just play for you,” frontman Chris Martin recently told French astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who was listening to the new single from the International Space Station for the first time before anyone down here could hear it. “The song is about trying to find the astronaut in all of us, the person that can do amazing things,” Martin explained.
That might be a little twee if the track, produced by Swedish pop supremo Max Martin, wasn’t so plainly euphoric. It’s the closest release to the band’s 2011 triumphant technicolour album ‘Mylo Xyloto’ (and the new lyric video sees the band sporting neon-flecked suits from that era), a sound defined by waterfalls of synths, commanding basslines and rich, textured vocals welcoming wide variety of vibrant voices into the fold.
Some lyrics revisit Martin’s go-to stadium mantras (“Come on!” / “Hold tight!”) but ‘Higher Power’ is best appreciated through the sheer force of the melody, giving you the rush of hurtling into the atmosphere, feeling like electricity is coursing through your fingertips and noticing the goosebumps on your skin – rather than processing any kind of mournful mission statements. And by the time Martin really lets loose in the immense outro, you can’t help but feel the same optimism and gratitude that he does.
For a band so often shackled by their emotional transparency, ‘Higher Power’ is an exciting leap forward. This new chapter has the potential to finally take Coldplay as high as they’ve always wanted to go. If ‘Mylo Xyloto’ was about a rose bursting through the concrete, ‘Higher Power’ launches this green shoot of hope into the stratosphere. Hold on tight.