Ghost Stories review by Coldplay

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  • Released: May 19, 2014
  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 7 Good
  • Users' score: 6 (60 votes)
Coldplay: Ghost Stories

Sound — 7
The band officially formed in 1998, though they had played together for a few years leading up to this under a few different names. After officially forming they began releasing EPs pretty much immediately and at a prodigious rate. They began to release a new full-length studio album every 2 to 3 years and they've continued doing that up until this current release, "Ghost Stories." They have repeatedly charted well with previous releases and have been nominated and won several awards. Suffice it to say, even people who aren't their fans would still recognize the name. They've been successful. "Ghost Stories" is the band's sixth studio release, and has had 3 singles released in advance of the album. The first single, "Magic," was released in early March; the second single, "Midnight," was released in mid-April; the third single, "A Sky Full of Stars," was released in early May. The standard edition of the album has nine tracks and a runtime of just over 42 minutes. The deluxe edition has twelve tracks and clocks in at approximately 49 minutes. 

The album opens up with the track "Always in My Head," which has an interesting slow swing to it and an infectious bassline. When the lyrics come in you will pretty much understand the intimate nature of the lyrical content of the entire album - it is very personal and it is a lot different than what I'm used to hearing from Coldplay. Next is the single, "Magic," which has percussion from a drum machine instead of live drumming and a simple melody that the song slowly builds from. "Ink" starts with the line "got a tattoo says together through life" to give you an idea of where this song is going. At this point you know you have to be ready to go down this melancholy trip with the band to be able to listen to this album the rest of the way through. "True Love" is sang in close to a falsetto voice for part of the song, and uses a lot of synth/keyboard to create a certain mood. The single, "Midnight," has a lot of processed vocals - reverbs/delays - which give the entire song an otherworldly vibe. "Another's Arms" uses dissonance very well to create the feeling they're aiming for - I just gotta say, if nothing else, that small part, they deserve some credit for that. "Oceans" has an acoustic intro played along some type of "beeping" sound effect - I think it is supposed to emulate a heart monitor, but it honestly just feels out of place and mixed too loudly... and lasts for the ENTIRE track. "A Sky Full of Stars" is a piano-driven track, and was also the third single released from the album. It has an almost EDM breakdown in it that is interesting, it is like the sun breaking through the clouds. "O" is another piano-driven song, this one with a sad little repeating melody. This is where the standard edition ends, for the extra three tracks you'll have to pick up the deluxe edition.

Lyrics — 7
Chris Martin's voice isn't exactly generic, but it doesn't have as much character as some vocalists - of course, as a point of reference I like vocalists like Bob Dylan, Isaac Brock and Dave Mustaine - a lot of character, probably more than skill. So you can take my opinion for what it's worth. While Chris does at times seem to emotionally connect with the lyrics more than on their previous releases, his voice is like a competent accompaniment to the instrumentation and not much more. The lyrics are some of the most personal lyrics the band has released, as it should be as the album is essentially a concept album dealing with Chris' break-up with his wife. As a sample of the lyrics from the single, "A Sky Full of Stars": "Cause you're a sky/ cause you're a sky full of stars/ I'm going to give you my heart/ cause you're a sky/ cause you're a sky full of stars/ and cause you light up the path/ I don't care/ go on and tear me apart/ I don't care if you do/ cause in a sky/ cause in a sky full of stars/ I think I saw you." So, like a lot of the rest of the album Chris is kind of wallowing in the experience of his break-up, but on the positive side of it he isn't being vitriolic but instead seems to be using the lyrics and the music as instruments of the healing process. More power to him, then.

Overall Impression — 7
This is a heavy album. I'm a fan of melancholy music, but music that is vaguely and non-specifically melancholy - "Ghost Stories" is sad. It is like an emotional journal of Chris Martin's heartbreak, which can become uncomfortable to listen to. Not that it is "bad," but it is emotionally exhausting, or potentially painful if you're feeling very empathetic. I do have to give the band props for releasing a very honest album, but I wonder if it wouldn't have had a better place as a Chris Martin solo release - because this is by far the most "personal" release the band has ever released and it feels weird sitting alongside the band's other releases. On the flip side, this is supposedly the first album where the other band members began writing the music while previously they just "added" to Chris Martin's ideas, so in that way he has had less creative control than he has had previously. My favorite song is probably "A Sky Full of Stars," but I did appreciate some little moments in the others songs a lot, as well. I would definitely recommend this album only if you're willing to go on that emotional trip with Chris Martin.

28 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I LIKE Coldplay, but I still anticipate the hilarity of the insults that will probably be thrown around this comment section
    I think this is a brilliant album. I really enjoy melancholic music and this ticks a lot of boxes for me. After Mylo Xyloto I for one am very happy about Ghost Stories. I've listened to it around 4-5 times now with my headphones and it's a good album to just let flow from start to finish. Wasn't expecting much, very nice surprise !
    Never gets old:
    I love Coldplay, but god that was hilarious. Even though they are great at those beautifully sad songs, when done right, a good payout of it can be hilarious. Same as Radiohead, The Smiths etc
    I dig the ambient approach on this album - even the exclusive tracks are worth checking out. I like it more than Mylo Xyloto.
    This is a great album. Each track fits well and I love the new electronic element. I think this review is a bit to objective (how can you criticize a person's voice because you prefer other voices) and really off in explaining the good and bad points in the album. Also the beeping sound in Oceans is cleverly done, keeping the pace of the song like a drum beat but also adding to the very isolated vibe (it sounds like a pulser beacon) which the whole album has.
    Honestly I prefer this album just because it goes back to their simpler roots. No album has ever been more like Parachutes, Mylo Xyloto was practically a blaring synthesizer each track. Plus the lyrics have an understandable meaning now
    It has it's moment... other than that my only comment so far is "meh". I might give it a couple other listen but It seems far from great.
    An excerpt: "I would rather chew off my f***ing scrotum than ever listen again to this boneless f***ing melange of morose f***ing piss-shit! I would rather eat an entire f***ing yurt, washed down with f***ing beige paint recently shat out of an incontinent yak’s anus!" Read it. It's pretty F***ing entertaining.
    I don't like the EDM elements. And don't dislike EDM, I just don't like this. I think they had a decent sound, and they ditched it for this. It's not experimenting. It's hopping on the EDM bandwagon, like so many non-EDM musicians have done.
    I was expecting that the song Atlas would be included in this release, however, was disappointed that it wasn't. The album is perhaps not as well produced as the previous albums and seems to be largely influenced with the trauma and challenges of his breakup with Gwyneth Paltrow. I guess its a must have for any Coldplay fan but imagine it to be less successful than their previous outings.
    But they've already released Atlas, you can buy it and add it on the album on your own.
    But it should have been on the album. The album is short as it is, Atlas could've made it seem more worth it.
    Props for the Isaac Brock shout-out! Why isn't there ever any Modest Mouse related news here? As far as this album goes, I've heard a few songs. Not blown away but not terrible in my opinion. Nothing has been as good as X&Y to me, though Viva La Vida came close.
    Last I heard from Modest Mouse, they said Brock named his record label "Glacial Pace" for a reason. I just don't think they have much to report.
    I was afraid when I listened to the singles before the release, but I was completely disappointed when I listen to the record itself. There is no ****ing trace of the amazing pop-rock atmosphere they managed to produce in their first four record, nothing but electronic adds. Even the drums are electronic. Seriously, I'm pissed. Those guys always managed to hit right but this is a real fail in their discography. I'm gonna wipe my tears by listening to Parachutes for the 654th time.
    It sounds like Coldplay did exactly what The Fray did on their most recent album and butchered their sound with electronic elements.
    Not true. Only a couple songs on GS have electronic elements, and they're (unfortunately, imo) the best songs on the album.
    Not a fan of EDM elements, sorry Chris. I don't mind Coldplay, but I still thought it was absolutely hilarious when Willie Nelson covered "The Scientist" and made it ten times better than the original version.
    Not as good as their previous work (especially Rush of Blood to the Head and Parachutes) but worlds better than Mylo Xyloto.