Ghost Stories

Written by: PP on 11/08/2014 20:15:48

While many still yearn for the subtle simplicity and the earnest, far-reaching melodies of Coldplay's early material, I was among many that found previous album "Mylo Xyloto" to be arguably the best album of their career despite its leaning on pop rock extravaganza and dramatic electronics. That record portrayed Coldplay at their most experimental and simultaneously at their poppiest yet, with larger-than-life songs like "Paradise" and "Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall" being unstoppable in radio stations and as department store background music across the world. It would've been reasonable to expect the band to continue on that path on sixth album "Ghost Stories", but a devastating break up between vocalist Chris Martin and actress Gwyneth Paltrow dictated it wasn't going to be so.

Instead, we get a concept album that revolves around that very breakup, with a storyline that closely traces Martin's emotions as he slowly reaches acceptance of the situation. Curiously enough, the resulting soundscape shares much more in common with "Parachutes" and "X&Y" than anything the band has released more recently. We're not back to stadium-sized pop rock songs, however, and "Ghost Stories" might actually be the quietest and most somber Coldplay album to date. Many songs are minimalistic, with tracks like "Magic" feeling like silent lullabies in comparison to the grandeur of "Mylo Xyloto", albeit still delivering a huge chorus to kill for. A song like "Ink", another highlight, is equally silent in its expression, relying on subtle electronica and calm, softly sung vocals of Martin as its primary driving force.

Minimalism has indeed been the theme throughout "Ghost Stories", which is only natural given its introspective concept and the emotional state of its author. But minimalism doesn't necessarily mean the album is boring or devoid of depth. Can you achieve more by saying less? Coldplay make a convincing argument for that theory on the record through complexity that is hidden in the simplicity of the album. Upon repeat listening, the slower and less upfront melodies begin to open layers that were simply not present on "Mylo Xyloto" due to the latter's bombastic nature. "A Sky Full Of Stars" features some of the grandiose keyboard backed, electronically infused melodies that we saw on that album, but as a whole, the record takes a far more sobering approach to exploring the possibilities within pop rock. It is somber, slightly melancholic (especially when electronic effects are applied on Martin's voice), and works surprisingly well even if it's unlikely to be a radio hit. But that being said, the album has a middle section which might have too little content to grade it much higher than just 'good'. Too few highlights to remember months down the line.

Download: Magic, Ink, A Sky Full Of Stars
For the fans of: Band Of Horses, The Fray, Snow Patrol
Listen: Facebook

Release date 16.05.2014
Parlophone Records

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