Coldplay, "A Head Full of Dreams" (Parlophone/Atlantic)
After darkness, light: Coldplay has wallowed and Coldplay has wept, but there comes a season for renewal. The band's seventh studio album courts the communion of the dance floor, along with the goodwill of its allies and fans. Blissful even at its most bittersweet, it's an album on which three songs make lyrical references to diamonds and every surface contentedly gleams. The subtext is no secret here. Frontman Chris Martin has been closely watched since the end of his marriage to Gwyneth Paltrow last year. This album flings back those heavy curtains while mindfully saving a space at the table for Paltrow: That's her voice buried in the mix on "Everglow," a Bruce Hornsby-esque piano ballad. "Fun" recalls the good times in a tone more reflective than raw. Coldplay continues to diversify its sound, with disco on "Adventure of a Lifetime," and flickers of hip-hop elsewhere. Martin, who has rediscovered the radiant properties of his voice, gilds a lot of lyrical treacle and borderline nonsense here. But on "Amazing Day," he articulates a philosophical worldview: "Life has a beautiful crazy design."
nate chinen, New York Times