When Coldplay released a teaser track for their sixth album Ghost Stories, it was a drastic change in direction for the band who seemed to be progressing more and more toward the U2 or Arcade Fire brand of arena rock.
But rather than put out an anthemic sure-fire hit with a big sound, they did just the opposite with Midnight, which fits more in line with something you’d expect from Bon Iver mixed with Hide and Seek (Imogen Heap) and a touch of Delerium ambience.
With just two verses, Midnight did more for the British band than any song since maybe The Scientist or Yellow. It practically redefined them by expanding their sound, creating a new perspective on them and making them feel almost new again. It’s like they dropped the ego and recreated what they’re about. This is once again reiterated by the second released track Magic.
The first lyrics on the album are “I think of you” and they set the tone for the rest of the record. It’s a mellow, dramatic – and sometimes melodramatic – record of post-breakup songs, likely about Chris Martin’s divorce from Gwyneth Paltrow.
The songs rarely step out of the funk as they wallow in sorrow from holding onto love in Magic to the tattoo analogy of Ink. It becomes aggravating by Another’s Arms, which is when empathy diminishes at the sign of too much self-pity.
Things pick up again on A Sky Full Of Stars, which is really the odd-one-out. Produced by Avicii, the recent Top 10 Hot 100 hit is a shallow addition musically on a record that is mostly acoustic or ambient electronica. It might lift the album out of its gloom and doom but it would have been more suitable as a remix or a track from Avicii’s own #True record.
Everything culminates to the lyrics of Fly On, where he finally lets her go but not completely. “Maybe one day I can fly with you/Fly on.”
Ghost Stories is an album best enjoyed by ignoring all preconceptions about Coldplay first. While the lyrics may lack originality with little in the way of new perspectives or ideas, which feel too limited at times, it is a surprisingly tranquil album that contains some of the bands best songs in nearly a decade.
1. Always In My Head
4. True Love
6. Another’s Arms
8. A Sky Full Of Stars
9. Fly On