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Album Preview: Katy Perry Has Found Her "SMILE" Once Again

After a two-year hiatus, Perry’s sixth studio album is a triumphant yet authentic return to the industry stage.

Girl with Micro Braids

DECEMBER 10, 2019

Channeling a staggeringly ethereal tone punctuated with experimental hooks and politically-charged lyricism, Coldplay storms back into the music scene with their latest LP, Everyday Life. The record, deviating from anything the band has taken on before—both aesthetically and sonically—is a capturing piece that addresses violence, the refugee crisis and environmental issues. The album is eclectic, filled with experimental harmonies and rhythms brimming with French, Spanish, Arabic and Persian intertwined. After collaborating with Martin on his track “Moon River,” Coldplay’s new record features English vocalist Jacob Collier on three songs—“Church,” “Cry, Cry, Cry” and “Everyday Life.” After a four-year hiatus (having done two rounds of tours for 2015’s stadium-friendly A Head Full of Dreams), the London band is serving up a poignant, honest and raw look at life in their earnest record.

The album is split into two parts: Sunrise and Sunset. Sunrise opens with the title track, “Sunrise,” an instrumental intro that strikes the listener immediately with its haunting violin, laid over a subtle sullen harmony in the background. The track is akin to the sound of Itzhak Perlman’s work; plaintive and atmospheric with a hint of foreboding lurking underneath. The record takes a more uplifting turn as “Sunrise” fades away and explodes into its first lyrical track, “Church.” “Church” has lead vocalist Chris Martin singing about the woman he loves, using metaphors to describe her as his “church.” Martin croons, “Cause when I’m hurt/I’ll go to your church.” The lyrics, despite the band having used a simple metaphor, are surprisingly capturing. We’ve heard church being used as a metaphor in other tracks before (Hozier’s “Take Me to Church,” Maren Morris’s “Church”), but Martin’s electric energy—along with the song’s upbeat, cosmic ambiance in instrumentation—interlaced with Arabic vocalist Norah Shaqur’s chimerical tone makes the track stand on its own.

“Trouble in Town” is a track that departs from the common lyrical narrative of Coldplay’s discography; it’s an honest look of violence against non-White persons and the prejuidce they endure. Sonically, it sets a moody tone with a subtle, haunting bass groove by guitarist Jonny Buckland and Martin’s deep, low notes as he spins a powerful story of the history of racism. Martin sings about examples of police “cutting my [his] brother down”—a clear reference to police brutality and homicide against African Americans—and how his “sister can’t wear her crown,” a metaphor describing how Muslim women are ridiculed for wearing hijabs in white communities. The song cuts suddenly to a sampling of police racially profiling an African-American man in Philadelphia in 2013; it’s a brilliant and terrifying way of entangling metaphoric storytelling with the staggering reality of life in today’s society.

Sunrise closes out with tracks that are as moving as the songs that precede them. It’s a pattern: one track is upbeat, the next is sullen, and it’s a unique methodology that keeps the listener captured. “Daddy,” alongside “Trouble in Town,” is one of the most outstanding tracks on Sunrise. It’s slow-burning and akin to a lullaby, an appropriate approach due to the song’s subject matter. Martin narrates from a child’s point of view, speaking to their absent father. Lyrically, the poetic nature of the song is emotional enough, but Martin’s soft piano and raw harmonization are what makes the track so poignant.

Sonically, Sunset’s opening track is a stark contrast to Sunrise’s, however it stays in line with the thematic elements of the album. It opens with “Guns,” which grips the listener with its lyrics. With a deceiving, uplifting beat and striking riffs echoing early Coldplay hit “Major Minus,” the song documents a more serious subject: the frightening escalation of gun violence in America—specifically how it is affecting our children. Similarly, “Orphans” addresses the refugee crisis, with Martin speaking on how we can improve and support the children in the world that are in need of a better life.

Coldplay debuts “Everyday Life” to wrap up the record, a song that encompasses the issues addressed within the album and how they affect our everyday life. The issues that we face unite us in trying to solve them; the lyrics grasp how we find commonality in trying to come together to stop the violence, the prejudice, the environmental crisis and the problems that plague us in modern society.

Despite their lengthy history of stadium shows and heavy touring schedules, Coldplay has decided not to tour to promote Everyday Life. Instead, the Londoners have only performed three shows: two rooftop shows in Amman, the capital of Jordan (the first time they have performed in the city) and one at the London Natural History Museum. According to Martin, the band has decided not to tour until they can address the negative impact the shows have on the environment, a choice that has come under scrutiny, with many questioning the band’s judgement.

Everyday Life is a welcome departure from Coldplay’s previous party-friendly records, “A Head Full of Dreams” and “Mylo Xyloto.” It’s an experimental album packed with self-awareness and honest lyricism that takes a refreshing look on how musicians can address the significant issues we face in everyday life.



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