There’s no doubting heartbreak can be a superb catalyst to great music. An artist in turmoil, laying their scorched soul bare can be wonderful, even profound, entertainment for the rest of us.
So, knowing that Coldplay singer Chris Martin has “consciously uncoupled” with Gwyneth Paltrow, we might expect something raw and bloody from the group’s sixth album.
His observations about heartbreak remain mired in cliché
But rather than being reenergised, Martin only sounds tired. “I think of you,” he sings in the record’s opening line, “I haven’t slept.” It’s the most convincing statement here.
Later, on the R&B infused Magic, he does his best to be optimistic, but only sounds like a sad bloke moping into his cocoa. Worse, his observations about heartbreak remain mired in cliché. “Feels like there’s something broken inside,” he muses on Ink.
Musically, the group seem to be going back to the start. The stark, subdued soundscapes recall the Radiohead-lite of early EP The Blue Room, with more troughs than peaks.
At their best, Coldplay make big, brash and triumphalist rock, but there’s little here to wave a lighter to, let alone a flag. Intimacy doesn’t really suit a group with nothing much to say.
There’s a vicarious thrill in raking through some famous dirty laundry, but all we are left with is the knowledge that even celebrities can be humdrum in their misery.