Album Review: Coldplay – Ghost Stories

Our deputy editors take a listen to Coldplay’s sixth LP and give us both sides of the story

ghost stories

Label: Parlophone
Released: 16/04/2014

Alex Donaldson

Ghost Stories marks a conscious uncoupling from Coldplay’s ‘Yellow’ roots, into a studio-centric visual experience. It’s basically still moaning about life, but the Japanese neon rave of Mylo Xyloto is gone, and in its place we have visual mythological etchings, ghosts of the past and divorcing a super-vegan.

Let’s start with the bad news: ‘A Sky Full Of Stars’ is produced by Avicii. I’ll let that sink in a little. Hands down this is Coldplay’s worst song to date, for a moment I thought I’d forgotten to skip the advert on YouTube when I first heard it a week ago, but no. It doesn’t belong on this album and we won’t mention it again.

Opener ‘Always In My Head’ is a magnificently produced piece, combining choral panning and subtle guitar, it sets the album out as it means to go on, it’s just a shame it’s cut short by ‘Magic’. Now the hype might be all about this song right now but, in all honestly it sounds like Martin’s vocals are being strained by a song that wasn’t written for him, all accompanied by those emotionless drums. Nonetheless, it does retain a place in your head, if only for those mind numbingly ennuyeux lyrics.

‘True Love’, with a twist on a standard chord progression, with minimal future beats, overdubbed with that tortured, almost off-key guitar solo is genius. It’s clever, not catchy, and it works. It flows seamlessly into ‘Midnight’ which is the standout track; dark, subtle and masterfully produced.

‘Another’s Arms’ is probably one of the most honestly heartbroken songs by Chris Martin. There’s a moment later in the album where you can even here wedding bells being rung. It’s more haunting than any lyric Coldplay have ever written.

There are a lot of intriguing moments on this album, but it strikes me as a foot dabbled into the shallow end of the electronic pool, they don’t quite want to say OK to the Computer just yet, but they’ve half arsed it and it sounds more mundane than it had the potential to be. Having said that, it needs to be rated more highly than Mylo Xyloto and perhaps Viva La Vida, simply for the balls of it – and the outro of ‘O’ is a moment of beauty outstripping even Radiohead.

Katie Woodard

Arguably one of the biggest bands in the world, Coldplay, has released their new album, Ghost Stories. Being a massive Coldplay fan I was extremely excited to listen to the new album. After the single ‘Magic’ I was waiting impatiently for the release of the album. The album was a change from the characteristic indie rock feel of previous albums. With its extensive synth based tracks and mellowing instrumentals, it has a much more chilled feel to the album. Perfect for those chilled summers out in the garden – post exams of course!

The opening song ‘Always In My Head’ as the title of the album states does portray a Ghost Story, not only lyrically but also with the use of melody. This ghostly melody can be heard throughout the album.
The group collected a top 10 singles place with the track ‘Magic’, just adding to their collection of top 10 singles. The band seems to be going from strength to strength.

A particular favourite track of mine is ‘True Love’ with the effective use of synths and wallowing strings, added to the melancholic voice of Martin. The reputation is a theme throughout the album, this song is no different, this also adds to the chilled and easy going feel of the album creating an eerie and ghost-like feel – yet again, apt for the title of the album.

The only track on the album which did not really hit the high standard that I expected from Coldplay was ‘O’ although it as an enjoyable piano piece with ghostly voices, the track did not take off for me and failed to add to the album as a whole. “O” is stripped of charade, and Martin sounds utterly exhausted by the final line. Perhaps not the best track to end an album with. However, this does not detract from the overall album.

Emphasising my point that Coldplay are one of the biggest bands around at the moment; they have produced an album which directly relates to their title in every sense. The attention to detail over every area of the songs can truly be heard within each track. I hope to see this album have as much success as previous albums have for them.

2 comments

  1. Chris Martin and co. desperately seek to downsize. Mope uncontrollably. Scarf down paella.

    http://ludditestereo.com/2014/05/21/ghost-stories-coldplay-album-review/

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  2. In response to Alex Donaldson’s review.
    Fitting review. Not really throwing themselves into the electronics, but sort of flirting with the idea, yet not in an elegant, nuanced way. The Avicii track thrown in the midst of this confusion is also, ah, a peculiar way of rebranding.
    The worst part is, I feel that they released Magic in order to cause a stir precisely because it insinuated a possible shift of sound towards pre-Viva la Vida albums. This is not the case. Intentional or not, it was certainly strategic for some reason.
    If you’re going to go electronic, then do so. Pull a Kid A and mess with us absolutely (and we will love it) – this intermediate stage is awkward.
    I love Coldplay, that’s the thing. Albums 1 to Viva la Vida were great, I even understood Viva’s dramatic change, because it was thorough and thematically consistent. I don’t, however, think this trend continued.

    Further, I do not believe that the outro of “O” deserves that title over Radiohead (but this is probably because of my extremely biased opinion).

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