Coldplay’s last album, 2014’s Ghost Stories, was a surprisingly dark and muted set released just months after Chris Martin’s split with Gwyneth Paltrow. A year and a half later, the frown has been turned upside down. A Head Full of Dreams, produced by Norwegian hitmakers Stargate, might be Coldplay’s brightest album ever – an eagle’s-wings whoosh of soaring melodies, happy dance beats and Martin at his most wide-eyed. “There are miracles at work,” he sings on the album-opening title anthem, which sounds like U2 and New Order on a joint humanitarian mission.
Coldplay flex their coalition-building strength by bringing together Beyoncé’s backing vocals and Noel Gallagher’s heroic guitar on the gingerly optimistic “Up&Up.” Bey also appears amid chirping birds on the R&B-touched “Hymn for the Weekend.” The LP’s healing mood is made personal when Paltrow herself adds some vocals to the warm farewell, “Everglow,” on which Martin compares his ex to a diamond, a lion and an eagle. He’s hinted that this could be Coldplay’s last album; if so, they’re going out on a sustained note of grace.