Coldplay Make a Quiet Return with ‘Orphans’ and ‘Arabesque’

Confessions time: I’m one of those people that likes Coldplay. Like, genuinely enjoys their music. There’ve been ups and downs, of course, and I don’t think that they’re perfect – 2011’s Mylo Xyloto was an aberration – but, all in all, their music is actually sort of decent. Please don’t stop reading now; this is my first piece for the Gryphon. It gets better. I promise.

Anyway, humiliations over, Coldplay are releasing a double album – titled Sunrise/Sunset – on the 22nd November. If you hadn’t heard about this, you’d be forgiven, because the first advertising appeared in Brazil on the 15th of October, and the album was announced in the British press via classified ads in local newspapers. A pretty low-key start, then.

On the 24th of October, they then released two singles – Orphans and Arabesque. Orphans, which seems to be the lead single – it got a music video, at least – is a typically upbeat track, reminiscent of Up & Up from 2015’s A Head Full Of Dreams. It has got a thumping bassline, but it’s still a singalong track with positive v i b e s. There are also, of course, a fair number of ‘woo woo’s (my spell-checker hates that), which Chris Martin seems to insert into songs when he’s run out of lyrics. And the lyrics in Orphans are pretty poor. For example:

She went, woo woo, woo woo oo-oo-oo
Indigo up in heaven today
Woo woo, woo woo oo-oo-oo
With bombs going boom ba-boom-boom

I’m a Coldplay fan, but this is pretty laughable stuff. 

Arabesque takes a bit of a different tack. It’s got much more of a groove, with a saxophone playing along for much of the track, and a section in French. I took French A-Level, but I’ve already forgotten it, so I don’t know what it’s saying. Something about coming from the same mother. It’s probably about love, let’s be honest. There’s a bit of a Middle Eastern riff as well (the song is called Arabesque, after all), and – wait for it – there’s a swear word in the song! In a Coldplay song! They’re so edgy and down with the kids! That said, dropping an F-bomb doesn’t exactly transform Coldplay into a cult sensation, and nor does the spoken-word section claiming, ‘music is the weapon of the future’, but it’s still a departure from their normal repertoire.

The first listen to these two was somewhat disappointing. Music tends to grow on me instead of making an instant impact, but even so, I wasn’t impressed. I’ve now revised my opinion to an extent. Orphans is pretty standard Coldplay fare – the aural equivalent of a pumpkin spice latté (give me a Greggs any day (what’s the musical equivalent of a Greggs? Oasis? Maybeeeee)) – but will become a fan favourite at live shows. Arabesque lacks the anthemic power of Orphans, but it is more experimental than most Coldplay tracks. Orphans will likely become a hit. Arabesque won’t, but it will linger on the playlists of edgy teens. Coldplay have actually achieved what they set out to do – they’ve pleased their die-hard fans with Orphans, and they’ve ventured down the experimental path with Arabesque. I don’t much like either of the songs, but fair play to the band. Let’s hope that the album itself is more appealing.

Header Image from NME.