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Album Review: Coldplay – Ghost Stories

Coldplay’s ‘Ghost Stories’ went straight to the summit of the UK album charts, Dom Kureen shares his opinion of the latest offering from Parlophone’s premier cash cow.

Coldplay 2

 

“I think of you, I haven’t slept. I think I do, but I don’t forget.”

From the offset it’s clear that the motivating energy source for Coldplay’s chart-topping album, ‘Ghost Stories’ lies squarely at the manicured hands of Chris Martin’s erstwhile spouse Gwyneth Paltrow.

Unashamedly melancholic, there is a raw honesty rarely glimpsed in the band’s work since they broke the proverbial glass ceiling with ‘Parachutes’ in 2000.

Few traces of the Japanese rave-pop that dominated previous LP, ‘Mylo Xyloto,’ remain, something that should appease die-hard fans who felt the band had strayed too far from what brought them to the dance.

There is certainly some worthwhile material here, first single release ‘Magic’ instantly hooks the listener with its basic percussion and uncorrupted ivory tinkling.

That gratifying simplicity is also present in opening gambit ‘Always in My Head’ and gradual grower ‘Oceans,’ both of which are painfully candid at times and expose the psychological fragility with which they were penned and recorded.

From there things drift a touch, although the thudding piano of ‘A Sky Full of Stars’ dovetails exquisitely with the reluctant interlude that supplants it.

Chris Martin: Ms Paltrow wouldn't let him eat anything yellow.
Chris Martin: Ms Paltrow wouldn’t let him eat anything yellow.

An album that ambles along provides ample ammunition for Coldplay’s detractors, who claim that their music lacks flexibility, relying too freely on gushing sentiment – on this evidence they may have a point.

A pleasant release, ‘Ghost Stories’ is unlikely to rock anyone’s world, but perhaps that was never the intention. This is a transparent extension of deep wounds gradually healing, with irregular pinches of welcome joviality to some extent compensating for the pre-eminent air of mourning.

Fittingly it resolves with the line “Don’t ever let go,” by which we can assume that the singer hasn’t completely given up on an unlikely romantic reconciliation – it is perhaps that prospect that prevents Coldplay from fully exerting the throttle, instead producing an album with whispers of sublime beauty, but frustrating repetition.

 

A sweet eulogy to lost love, ‘Ghost Stories’ promises more than it ultimately delivers.
 

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.