The Magnolia Effect: Coldplay

Well, it happened. Coldplay are back with their first single since 2014’s ‘Miracles’, and they’ve made some tweaks to their creative direction. This time round they are trying to be a little more disco, with ‘Adventure for a Lifetime’. Their last album failed to provide many successful singles outside of the stellar ‘A Sky Full of Stars’, which seemed to indicate more of an electronica (electronica-er?) influence, and also seemed to indicate Chris Martin started actually caring about his vocal output.

Coldplay have always been a band that has puzzled me. Their music is about as neutral as it gets – the word ‘edge’ is completely foreign in the world of Coldplay, which is where the term ‘The Magnolia Effect’ comes from. Magnolia is a solid colour – many a bedroom wall has been adorned with it, Dulux have it in its hallowed hall of paint legends, and it’s a staple for sure. But there’s nothing remotely interesting about it.

Kind of like Coldplay.

Coldplay are a band that have never really been that bad, but they’ve also never been that good. They’re obviously one of the biggest bands in the world (or were), but they’ve never produced an album that has made everyone stop and listen, like – for instance – an Adele album has.

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Photo: WJS.blog

This isn’t to say that they haven’t released good songs: the aforementioned ‘A Sky Full of Stars’ is a corker (mainly because it relies more on electronic instrumentals than lacklustre vocals), and ‘Paradise’ is both catchy and unique (for a Coldplay song anyway). But what does their latest song say? Will Coldplay finally make that leap into the realm of vibrancy and colour?

Well, no. ‘Adventure of a Lifetime’ fails in providing an exciting and, more importantly, good song. This is a shame because it actually starts out really well; a cool almost sitar-sounding guitar riff, Chris Martin’s vocals are used in a way that highlights the ethereal strengths of his tones rather than the weaknesses, and then there’s a fun little bass line. Right up until the chorus, it’s seeming like a pretty decent song. Then the chorus hits.

I’m not quite sure how, but Martin has somehow managed to find a way to sap the emotion out of the line ‘You make me feel like I’m alive again’, ironically sounding half-dead in his delivery. It completely offsets all the cool music from the start of the song that re-enters for the chorus, and puts the magnolia effect into… well, effect.

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The colour of Coldplay?

During the bridge he says ‘turn the magic on’ and I can’t help but implore him to do the same. The latter half of the song changes things up a bit, with Martin using the old song-writing trope of repetition (see Taylor Swift’s annoyingly catchy ‘Shake it Off’ or anything by Don Broco for a demonstration). Here though, Chris uses it on a ‘woo’ sound, which then acts as the hook for the rest of the song. It doesn’t add anything to the song and is simply lazy song-writing – this technique is best used with actual words rather than extra-linguistic noises, otherwise it isn’t as catchy and the whole thing becomes redundant (kind of like Coldplay).

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Image: Youtube

‘Adventure of a Lifetime’ feels more like a trip to the corner shop in terms of excitement and intrigue, and it appears as though Coldplay will be keeping with the magnolia effect for their next album: ‘A Head Full of Dreams’, out later this year. At this point, it seems the album title will be quite apt – most people will be sleeping before making it to the halfway mark.

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