by Isabelle Ick
Coldplay’s sixth studio album, Ghost Stories, was released May 16. Despite the British rock band’s success during its 15 years of recording, Ghost Stories departs from the band’s usual intoxicating vibe and is overwhelmed by lead vocalist Chris Martin’s heartbroken lyrics.
It is clear that the album is greatly inspired by Martin’s turbulent relationship with his wife, actress Gwyneth Paltrow. In March, Martin and Paltrow announced that they were “consciously uncoupling” after 10 years of marriage, according to nytimes.com.
Unfortunately, Martin’s personal troubles do not remain private on Ghost Stories. Martin consistently drones on about a failed love in songs that are mundane and lazily written.
Ghost Stories establishes its emotional tone right from the start with “Always In My Head.” The track hosts a mesh of echoing guitar and Martin’s vocals as he confesses, “I think of you, I haven’t slept / I think I do but I don’t forget.”
On the next track, “Magic,” Martin continues to reveal his conflicted heart along to a pulsing electronic beat, singing, “And with all your magic / I disappear from view / And I can’t get over / Can’t get over you.” Martin’s continuous brooding turns the album’s melancholy mood into a deeper shade of blue. “True Love,” “Ink,” “Another’s Arms” and essentially the rest of the album are slow tracks agonizing over the same thing: a loss of love.
However, the sun finally shines through the clouds during “A Sky Full of Stars,” a collaboration with Avicii, where a classic Coldplay piano riff gradually gives way to a refreshing dance synth. “I don’t care / Go on and tear me apart,” Martin cries at the peak of the chorus, reaching the resilient climax to the album’s emotional journey. However, this moment of upbeat ecstasy is the only exception to Ghost Stories’ mellow beats and lamenting lyrics.
It’s undeniable that Ghost Stories is an emotionally raw, beautifully produced album full of auditory details, such as the sonar-like noises that run through “Oceans” in place of a drum beat, and the haunting choirs that echo in “O.” While this sonic experimentation is commendable, the album has no true intellectual depth.
Ghost Stories lacks the captivating melodies that permeated Coldplay’s previous albums in infectious anthems such as “Viva la Vida” and “Princess of China.” In contrast to Mylo Xyloto, its optimistic, pop-inspired album, Ghost Stories is a disappointing and underwhelming turn.
While Coldplay is attempting to reinvent itself, Ghost Stories is a step in the wrong direction.