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Coldplay - Ghost Stories (Album Review)

Tuesday, 20 May 2014 Written by Graeme Marsh

Break-ups have provided inspiration for many of the finest songs and albums ever written, with the accompanying loneliness and despair an all-too-relatable situation for many.

Following Chris Martin’s much-publicised split with Gwyneth Paltrow, he has ventured down that rabbit hole for Coldplay’s sixth studio album, their first since ‘Mylo Xyloto’ arrived in 2011.

From the hushed tones of Always In My Head to the final moments of its dreaded hidden track – or snippet in this case – ‘Ghost Stories’ is a tale of woe drenched in sorrowful lyrics, but one that feels restrained. It’s more the sound of someone moping about and kicking their heels after a long term relationship fizzles out than the distraught wailing of an artist coming to terms with a huge loss.

Considering the overwhelming subject matter, it’s perhaps odd that Martin’s daughter, Apple, contributes angelic backing vocals on the opening track. But, then again, he recently told Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe that the song was about “togetherness through life’s changes”.

Truthfully, aside from that, there’s little to get excited about, though. The electronic beat floats through a sparse, warm chord progression that simply feeds into the album’s tepid lost love interior.

Magic, one of the album’s singles, is a highlight as its mellow approach builds into an acoustic passage that threatens to erupt into an anthemic climax, but stops short as Martin sings: “I don’t, no I don’t...want anyone else but you.”

“All I know is that I love you so, so much that it hurts” he then laments, tapping into a neat line in clichés during the lacklustre Ink, while another slowie, the over-polished True Love, is likely to make you sleep before you weep.

Martin’s falsetto creates a Bon Iver moment among minimal percussion and tinkly synths on Midnight, which builds into a bubbling crescendo of noise. But, once again, it falls a little short, as does Another’s Arms, which walks a similar path of melancholy beginnings to a cathartic guitar passage as Martin moans: “The pain just rips right through me.”

Oceans treads the same water before culminating in wedding bells – a reminder of rosier times perhaps - while A Sky Full Of Stars reminds us of Coldplay’s past credentials. Familiar piano chords are struck before synths explode, taking the song into more recognised anthem territory.

After the delicate touch of the insipid O, the album moves full circle with the return of the angelic backing vocals. The last track, in fact, epitomises the entire album; it wants to make you cry but can’t quite inflict that pain on others. As such, these tales of heartache don’t hit home. It’s close, but the nagging feeling of something being held back engulfs the entire collection.

Coldplay Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue July 01 2014 - LONDON Royal Albert Hall

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