Coldplay
Ghost Stories


4.0
excellent

Review

by Mike Denison USER (20 Reviews)
May 17th, 2014 | 143 replies


Release Date: 05/19/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A softer paradise.

I might be giving Chris Martin and company a little too much credit, but lately I find myself imagining them like wise sages, shaking their heads at the pop music sector (and, really, us) every time they release an album. "No, children, you're too comfortable. You have to take a few risks sometimes." Viva La Vida drops. "Children, you're taking life too seriously. You must learn to celebrate your victories!" Mylo Xyloto burst forth. "Everything in moderation. Restraint is a virtue." Ta-da, Ghost Stories.

Of course, like any lessons from your elders, there are confusing errors mixed with the nuggets of wisdom; Coldplay's latest is far from perfect. But it's an enjoyable experience. It's got all the reverb and synthesized fixings of Mylo Xyloto, but they're directed towards the goal of crafting an intimate, hushed atmosphere instead of explosions of color. Yes, it's sleepy and even a little boring at times. But more often than not, I'm swallowed by the intimacy that Coldplay so obviously strove for here, even as I know it's deliberately calculated. Quite simply, Coldplay is really good at writing pop songs, whatever shape they take on.

Take the silky-smooth "Magic" for example. Martin's tale of post-breakup obsession is sparse, but the instrumentation is well-crafted, and the slow, even build keeps things lively. The standout "Midnight" is initially minimalistic (by Coldplay standards) and eschews pop song structures in favor of another glorious synth-laden build with a beautiful anti-climax. Even the more typical songs like the easily accessible soft-rock-flavored "Another's Arms" shine; the female background vocals are a beautiful touch and a far cry from the disaster of "Princess of China." None of these songs really break new ground, but they're executed almost flawlessly.

There are missteps, to be sure. "Always in My Head" sounds like a pedestrian Xyloto b-side, and "Oceans" meanders for far too long without creating any sort of engaging atmosphere. But to its credit, it builds up into the album's surprise triumph. Yes, the Avicii collaboration sounded like a huge mistake when it was first released. But in the context of the full album, "A Sky Full of Stars" makes perfect sense, an EDM-laced celebration that breaks from the emotional morass of "Oceans" and introduces a glimmer of hope into the album's mostly somber tale. It's a breath of fresh air.

No, Ghost Stories won't sway the naysayers. What some see as intimacy, others will call laziness; what some call accessibility, others will call cash-ins. It's very much a Coldplay album, and in 2014, that means it's lyrically on the simple side. It's less musically demanding than any of their previous albums. But these truths can't hide the fact that Coldplay is undeniably good at what they do. Coldplay knows how to adapt and react to the trends of pop music, and this breaks away from the almost cartoonish excess that genre has embraced while still following a simple principle: music doesn't have to reinvent the wheel in order for it to be enjoyed. Ghost Stories is a tale worth hearing.



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user ratings (368)
Chart.
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
ProjectFreak
May 17th 2014


1356 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

3.8 really

Drsmith4
May 17th 2014


1715 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Frankly, I'm amazed that here we are - three Sputnik reviews into this baby - with next to no mention of Mr. Martin's
personal life.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
May 17th 2014


7338 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I don't mind Coldplay, but I really don't know what people are seeing in this album. They've obviously gone for the whole minimalism thing, but it just sounds empty. Oh, and given that this is supposed to be the Chris Martin breakup album, his lyrics really fall short.

Good review, though.

FreddieDelaney31
May 17th 2014


60 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oceans is phenomenal and there is no mention of Midnight. Neg.

Digging: State Faults - Resonate/Desperate

PistolPete
May 17th 2014


3611 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review, definitely the best one thus far. But I gotta disagree with you on one point...Princess of China was definitely NOT a disaster.

Digging: Banks - Goddess

Drsmith4
May 17th 2014


1715 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

@freddiedelaney31

(The standout "Midnight" is initially minimalistic (by Coldplay standards) and eschews pop song structures in favor of another glorious synth-laden build with a beautiful anti-climax.)

ProjectFreak
May 17th 2014


1356 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Drsmith: Fair point. But at this point it's common knowledge...what's there to be gained from bringing it up?
Ali: Thanks! I understand where you're coming from, but this clicked with me for some reason.
Freddie: Disagree on the first part, and as Drsmith so astutely pointed out, Midnight is decidedly mentioned.
Pete: I have absolutely no idea what people see in that song, it just felt so clunky and emotionless and out of place on MX.
But thanks!

TWIGtheWONDERKID
May 17th 2014


797 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Nice review (I love the word eschew), I agree with what you said about “A Sky Full of Stars.” It is better as part of the album than as a single. I think this is a good album, but I don’t think it is great. I would give it a 3.2 if I could. There is a difference between minimal and monotonous, and I think some of this is just monotonous . . . I do give the band credit for trying something different.

Digging: Perfume Genius - Too Bright

Zackkkk
May 17th 2014


83 Comments


Good review. This is definitely the album they needed to make at this point in their careers. Another massive, bombastic album after Viva and Mylo would've been a mistake. I wish people gave Coldplay more credit. For a massively successful mainstream artist, they are not afraid to experiment at all. Releasing Midnight as the first track off this album was a bold move for sure.

ChoccyPhilly
May 17th 2014


6276 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Loving that opening paragraph

Digging: Mathias Delplanque - Transmissions

ProjectFreak
May 17th 2014


1356 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks! Wasn't sure if it would work.

ChoccyPhilly
May 17th 2014


6276 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Summed up my feelings on the last 3 albums too but on a smaller scale. Love some of the ideas behind this album, like
ones on songs O, Another's Arms and Oceans, but they kind of fall just short of what they could be in my mind at least.
I was hoping Coldplay would venture beyond their comfort zone and Midnight gave me so much hope, which ended up
being unmatched.

ChoccyPhilly
May 17th 2014


6276 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

*sigh* why are editing comments so hard?

ProjectFreak
May 17th 2014


1356 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I feel your pain bro, some features of this site baffle me haha

Rowan5215
May 17th 2014


26502 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Really nice review although I disagree with your "weakest tracks"

Digging: Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago

trackbytrackreviews
May 17th 2014


1077 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

No mention of O?

ProjectFreak
May 17th 2014


1356 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Didn't see the need. It's a pretty average closer IMO

fallenbird
May 17th 2014


3860 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Would be flipping you the bird but it flew on.

Digging: Sugary Sweet Machines - Controlled Breathing

Rowan5215
May 17th 2014


26502 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

O is so good

Slut
May 18th 2014


2469 Comments


So excited to jam this



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