Coldplay – Ghost Stories | Album Review

When: 19/05/2014
Where: Parlophone
Like/Love: LIKE
For fuck’s sake, I’m reviewing a Coldplay album. Never in my mildest dreams did I think I’d ever feel the need to contribute to the most pointless of pointless mountains by telling people to check out the new Coldplay record. Maybe because I’m in my final week of adolescence that I feel an unexpected connection to Ghost Storiesbut either way, you should probably check out the new Coldplay record.
Many people are saying that Coldplay have gone for another concept record in Ghost Stories, but I don’t think it’s fair to narrow down frontman Chris Martin’s divorce from long term partner Gwyneth Paltrow as “another concept”. Sadly things like divorce and heartbreak happen to everyone, but I guess in a way it’s nice to see Chris Martin and Coldplay at their most humanised. Last album Mylo Xyloto was possibly their most ambitious effort yet. However, the sound of Ghost Stories is as to be expected, very subdued and perfectly depressed to fit the tone and context surrounding it.
Opening track Always In My Head features an instrumental that definitely sets up what should be expected from Ghost Stories. It’s serene, beautiful sound is made up of warm, utopian synths and watery guitar melodies. Chris Martin’s simple lyricism easily creeps into your head and as a whole it’s a very pretty listen. A beautiful song, and definitely an example of Coldplay at their best musically.
Lead single Magic was definitely created with the radio in mind. It’s simple instrumentation is different enough to not fall immediately into genericism but it definitely does rely on it’s lyrics. This could be said for the other singles on Ghost Stories, or the other singles of Coldplay in general. The band have nailed relatable by being as broad as possible with their words. Midnight reveals a tweak in sound with autotuned vocals and slight distortion before easing into a tame but significant call of energy for the finale with an almost DnB finish. A Sky Full Of Stars from it’s start definitely screams stadium pleaser, with it’s engaging piano riff and goddamn…it just reeks of mainstream.
Tracks like Ink and Oceans reveals Chris Martin at his most raw, and even to the people who couldn’t care less about Coldplay, just knowing there’s material that shows Chris Martin opening up about Gwyneth Paltrow is enough to drive them towards it. Hell, I think as a whole humans just love hearing people in anguish. That’s why I personally love the new Queens Of The Stone Age record …Like Clockwork. It’s anguish and confession found in the most unlikely of places, and it’s comforting to have found it.
Ghost Stories is a strange record in that Coldplay have made it aware it needs to reflect Chris Martin’s recent heartbreak while also delivering something for the radio fans to enjoy. The record has to succumb to making sure it has one or two hits amongst the material, some of which is some of the best I’ve heard from Coldplay in a long time, so definitely sounds jagged and broken in that respect. Fortunately the context makes jagged and broken ideal.
Ghost Stories is not going to set the world of fire like it’s predecessor did, but it does show a success in change for Coldplay. It’s also left me somewhat excited to see where the band go next as this record shows that they’re heading towards something, whether that’s a more pained road or a victory in defeating the sadness, who knows. I think it’s a testament that it’s got people like me finally interested in Coldplay. And regardless of band or act or whatever, it’s still a beautiful listen in most places.
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