DISCLAIMER: This review contains an opinion you may not like. If you are vulnerable to such opinions, best not continue from here eh?
Following the massive success of 2011’s Mylo Xyloto, Coldplay’s new album ‘Ghost Stories,’ reeks of the kind of bland experimentalism characteristic of bands who have taken a commercial side step and are now desperately trying to shake off the shackles of success by making an album that’s ‘niche’ and ‘down-tempo.’ For Coldplay, what could have been a really interesting record given the band’s track record of great balladry, [tracks like ‘Yellow’ and ‘Amsterdam’ being two such examples] is a bizarre scrapbook of Eno-esque synths and half-arsed songs. Chris Martin’s lyrics are the definition of Marmite at the best of times, but on this album, he ascends to new levels of earnest cliché-ism.
The album begins with the ironically titled ‘Always In My Head.’ I say this because having listened to the album through several times I cannot for the life of me recall a single memorable lyric or hook from the aforementioned song. Such a trend continues throughout tracks such as ‘Ink’ and the painfully clichéd ‘True Love.’ The tracks that do stick in your mind are even worse. The single ‘Magic,’ although a listenable song with plenty in the way of atmosphere, has no interesting plays on the title theme, and its arrangement doesn’t stretch beyond the introduction of Johnny Buckland’s sweeping guitar lines, which don’t distract you from the fact that this song sounds like an unfinished demo, especially with the drums mixed so damn loud. It’s a typical example of a band with a long track record behind them bringing out a song that, had it been their debut, would’ve left them as nothing more than another obscure, unremarkable artist. ‘Midnight’ plods along in a similar manner, never really extending beyond the strange swirling keys it tempts you with, never building to the climax it seems to suggest. It’s not a particularly bad track, again, the atmosphere’s there but like most of ‘Ghost Stories’ it feels as skeletal and incomplete as the album’s title suggests.
The worst track on this album though, is the, what music journalists call ‘EDM infused’ ‘Sky Full Of Stars.’ Given that Avicii produced the track, it’s no surprise that it’s a mindless, gutless, unimaginative, regurgative garbage heap of a song, sporting nothing more than a clunky arrangement, terrible Eurovision song contest production and vacuous lyrics which a six-year-old child could identify as predictable.
But by far the most insulting thing about ‘Ghost Stories’ is the fact it doesn’t even have the conviction to end decisively. Just when you think you’ve reached the end of the dreary piano ballad that is ‘O,’ what could well be 3 tracks [I’ve no idea, they’re all so similar] sneak back in just as you’re ready to throw your iPod out of the nearest window. These hidden tracks are perhaps the most offensive of all, like broken promises, they leave you expecting unprecedented morsels of the old Coldplay magic, only to leave you decidedly underwhelmed.
A conclusively dreary album that lacks the bravery to step fully into an experimental territory, whilst trying to appear daring and introspective, achieving little more than a disappointed sigh from the falsetto tones of Chris Martin. If this was the album he was writing during the time in which he was married to Gwyneth Paltrow, I’m beginning to understand why she left him for Tony Stark [that is what happened right?].