Album Review: Ghost Stories by Coldplay

ghoststoriesfullAlbum Reviewed: Ghost Stories
Artist: Coldplay
Album Reviewer: Michael Mariscal
Rating: 3 ½
Rating 3 Approval
When I first heard a new Coldplay album was coming out, I was fairly unexcited. It’s not that I don’t like Coldplay. I’ve always been happy to hear one of their songs–they usually provide a temporary relief from the Pitbull’s and Miley’s that have taken over the music world. But they’ve never really captured my attention. After listening to them for more than ten minutes, the songs would all being to blend together, and my interest would die. They appeared to have been stuck behind the insurmountable wall of consistency that had trapped so many musicians before them. Sure, they had made some slight stylistic changes album to album. But in the end each song seemed to boil down to the exact same elements that were certainly unique when compared with any other band, but not unique to the rest of their catalogue.
So when I listened to Midnight, the first single of the album, my jaw dropped. It was softly brilliant, characterized by empty space and an autotune like effect that would lead most listeners to attribute the song to Bon Iver rather than Coldplay.
The rest of the album maintains a lot of these differences. The band avoids their classic uplifting choruses and instead trades them for more quiet melodies. Almost every song sounds different from their previous catalogue, and I give them credit for that.
But in the album itself, each song sounds the same. Every song focuses on sadness. It’s a breakup album (singer Chris Martin and his wife announced their divorce in March) so sadness is obviously important, but the truth is that grief is made up of much more. It is made of confusion, of anger, and depression. So focusing on just one aspect of grief leaves the listener ultimately unsympathetic to the singer’s situation. It makes for an incomplete album, where every song seems to be an extension of the other.
Perhaps in a conscious effort to make something different and specifically sad, the band suffocated potential moments of beautiful music on the album. Take the song Magic, for example: three-quarters of the way through, an acoustic guitar is added. It’s a great moment, and if continued, it has the potential to make for an energetic and emotional outro. But the guitar cuts as quickly as it came in, and we’re left with a fade-out ending that mirrors the beginning of the song.
So you can see why I’m conflicted in my overall opinion of the album. I got what I wanted, something different and unique to the band. But I feel a little gipped. They didn’t re-invent their songwriting process, and they didn’t write a complete album. They just dropped the energy and replaced it with a little too much gloom. So I love the effort, but in the end this album was nothing special: worth listening to once or twice, not much more.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *