Coldplay
Ghost Stories


4.0
excellent

Review

by Scott M. Baldwin USER (95 Reviews)
May 13th, 2014 | 157 replies


Release Date: 05/19/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Coldplay trade the stadium-shaking bombast and fanfare for a cozier, more relaxed, and at times even creepy sound.

"Expect the Unexpected" is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot nowadays, and in the past few years, Coldplay certainly seems to have been the type of band that it applies to most. The four-piece post-Britpop band shocked a lot of people when they traded in the bleak and dreary sounds of albums like X&Y and A Rush of Blood to the Head for a more orchestra and tribal-fusion fueled sound in 2008, and even moreso three years later with something of a continuation and lead-in to a more upbeat and bombastic sound. And while that period was fun, well, it can't last forever. So where exactly has Coldplay gone? Well, that's a good question. With two lead singles this year that, while good, were dissonant in how they were to represent the forthcoming album, the band has shocked us once again with a cozier, more synthy and at times, eerie palette to their music. It's not like they had any choice but to make a more laid-back album, and at times on Ghost Stories, the band seem aware of it.

But the band seems to be fully embracing this different direction with the music, and who can blame them. Clocking in at just over 40 minutes, Ghost Stories is indeed softer and more laid-back, but not at all like their previous albums. Synthesizers are more dominant than ever. While there are moments of anthemic stadium-ground rumbling and outbursts of colour, the album takes on a darker and sleepier feel. And for the most part, it works. There's plenty of moments of sheer beauty to be found throughout the album, in a sort of eerie way. There are shades of old Coldplay to be found, but luckily, it doesn't meant the band regressing into old habits and going "back-to-basics" for the sake of it- in fact, the band seems to be more mature and confident than ever with their latest album, something that greatly enhances the listening experience. Granted, "Midnight" is probably the best indication of what the overall sound of the album is like- the lead single is filled with a sleepy, electronic instrumental and creepy harmonized voices that sound almost like Imogen Heap's "Hide and Seek", but then there's tracks like "Ink" and "Sky Full of Stars" both being upbeat and irresistibly catchy tunes that will for sure be big hits and concert showstoppers. "Sky" in particular is the catchiest and most upbeat song on the album, with a chorus that shows the band veering off into almost dance-pop territory, and for sure it'll be the "turn up loud" song for most people. And then there's some songs that sound incredibly dark- "Another's Arms" in particular being a mid-tempo tune with ominous and brooding low-pitch vocals from Chris Martin, intercut with vocalizations in the chorus- it's a pretty intense song, and for sure one to listen in the dark. And of course, the usual love ballads are on display- "True Love" being a track with unique chord progressions and while a Chris doesn't particularly sound at his best on it, it works for the most part and gives the song a desperate feel- and bittersweet album closer "O" is one of those "lonely piano" songs with Chris comparing his love for someone to a flock of doves. It's a tear-jerker of a track and is a beautiful way to close the album for sure.

In short, Ghost Stories is an album where the listener for sure need to lower their expectations. True, Coldplay's releases are just generally like that, but this one in particular shows the band defying expectations, making for one hell of a listening experience. The album never overstays its welcome, and though it isn't as good as "Mylo Xyloto" and does suffer from a few moments where it falls short (they could have picked a better opener than "Always On My Mind", and "Magic" is a bit too close to Muse's "Madness" to leave a lasting impression), Ghost Stories is another solid album in the already loaded Coldplay canon. And with some of the tracks sure to downright blow people away in concert (Will they bring the glowing wristbands like they did last tour?), this deserves to be known as one of the great Coldplay albums. Now let's hope that in the future, the band will continue the momentum that they've had going since 2008, and will keep delivering more heartfelt efforts like this.



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user ratings (450)
Chart.
3.1
good
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Derelict (3)
    Coldplay's newest album cannot avoid the band's main flaws: Passive lyrics and uninspired ...

    Mall (2)
    You're holding in your hands the two halves of my heart...

    ColdBloodedCynic (4)
    On Coldplay's sixth effort, they finally become more than the critic's whipping boys....

    jacobclark512 (5)
    While Ghost Stories is not Coldplay's absolutely best effort, its melancholy and mature so...

  • Irving Tan STAFF (2.8)
    Heartbreak by numbers....

    Liza Lowe (3)
    Coldplay strips things back...

    Mike Denison (4)
    A softer paradise....

    Ben Kuettel (2.5)
    Coldplay’s latest release is a collection of harmless Electronca-esque Soft Rock ballads...


Comments:Add a Comment 
TheMoonchild
May 12th 2014


506 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Well, this album was sure a surprise.

emester
May 12th 2014


4380 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

and I thought they rushed the reviews of the new Agalloch...

Digging: Schammasch - Contradiction

VaxXi
May 12th 2014


758 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Man guys, this thing came out less then four hours ago. Can we just hold off for another day or two?

SharkTooth
May 12th 2014


6553 Comments


Fanboyism!

Digging: Boylan - ima rockstar im not a rockstar

Arcade
Contributing Reviewer
May 12th 2014


3373 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

FUCK MAYBE I'LL GET FEATURED IF I REVIEW THIS QUICK ENOUGH FUCK!!!


Digging: Danny Brown - Old

VaxXi
May 12th 2014


758 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Im afraid that if I go to sleep two more reviews will be posted then the real ones will be pretty much ignored until a staff reviewer publishes one ._.

SharkTooth
May 12th 2014


6553 Comments


I'll request a feature if a good one comes up

ASnideReturns
May 12th 2014


5241 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

First Coldplay album I've ever enjoyed.

ASnideReturns
May 12th 2014


5241 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Also, this is a good review. Pos. Quit negging it because of how quickly he came out with it holy fuck.

SharkTooth
May 12th 2014


6553 Comments


@Snide REVIEW IT!!!

trackbytrackreviews
May 12th 2014


1900 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

You should split that second paragraph, at least.

ASnideReturns
May 12th 2014


5241 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

@Shark: Naw man, as it is I'm not much of a Coldplay fan. This album just surprised me with some of its atmospheric moments.

BeneaththeDarkOcean
May 12th 2014


480 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

After hearing "A Sky Full of Stars", I wasn't sure about this album. But after reading your review, I'm kind of excited again to hear this! Thanks, Moony! (Can I call you that?)

Capablanca
May 13th 2014


210 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

As long as it doesn't suck as much as MX, I'll give it a listen.

SimpleM
May 13th 2014


31 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Expect 5millon reviews for this

TheMoonchild
May 13th 2014


506 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Beneath- go right ahead

fallenbird
May 13th 2014


4122 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Great Album

Arcade
Contributing Reviewer
May 13th 2014


3373 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

Quit negging it because of how quickly he came out with it holy fuck.



It came out 5 hours ago. It means he didn't have enough time to make a fair appraisal of this and is basically just speaking out his ass

postrockpaperscissor
May 13th 2014


286 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"O" is absolutely stunning. I love it. Not the whole album, just a few songs.

fallenbird
May 13th 2014


4122 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

O is definitely the highlight for me.



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