I’ve always been told that high expectations lead to high disappointments. Maybe I was expecting more from Coldplay’s latest album, Ghost Stories, released in May, 2014. I was expecting something different from what I’m used to and at first I was disappointed. I’m a huge Coldplay fan & own every album. I remember when Parachutes came out; I did in fact have mix tapes from the radio with “Yellow” on them. What I failed to realize when I first popped this in was that this album is about a different journey. It took another taste of Ghost Stories to realize what this was and how brilliant it is. Fourteen years after Parachutes, Coldplay delivers an album that is crammed with emotion. Chris Martin is a genius when it comes to being able to soothe our souls with his voice. He can take us to a different reality, fix our anguish, misplace our minds for the length of the album without hesitation.
There are mixed feelings about this album from fans and critics alike, but I think we fail to realize that personally, Martin has been battling his own issues with the separation from Gwyneth Paltrow. We are traveling with him in a journey of heartache. This album incorporates his pains. His sufferings. So yes, it might be a bit somber than the overly colorful joy that was Mylo Xyloto. But bands like Coldplay have originality despite their lack of “fluff”. Their ability to have an exclusive sound yet create a dissimilar album than what they’ve crafted in the past 14 years is singular. Ghost Stories is a different side of Coldplay we have never seen before, still reminiscent of their true nature, still absolutely awesome.
These ballads are still full of whimsical elegance which I believe to be a Coldplay signature. With producers such as Timbaland and Avicii we get a construct of music that is indeed full of emotion. Tracks like “True Love”, you get the taste of Timbaland; the subtle beat boxing mixed with a hint of drums being led by Will Champion, and the cries of an elaborate orchestra, all wrapped with the tenderness of Martin’s voice: “I’ve lost you now, You Let Me Go, But One Last Time, Tell me you love me, if you don’t, then lie…” You feel the guitar’s crescendo in the core of your soul. It’s the power in the lyric as well as in the instrumentals. Jonny Buckland and Guy Berryman have such a great technique with the guitar and bass. It’s engulfing. What makes Coldplay so great is that in the juxtaposition of so many elements, their albums never sound overwhelming. There are still upbeat tracks such as Skies Full of Stars, produced by Timbaland and Avicii, we first experience a lovely piano instrumental intro, EDM influences in the mixing, slowly building up, and bam! We get an explosion of creativity and a lively sound pulsating through the waves; it would be hard for listeners to not nod their head with the beat.
So this album isn’t quite what you expected. That is the beauty in Coldplay. They brought us an album that was probably difficult to create with beauty in the pain. This is why they continue to make great music fourteen years after their first studio release. So, it might not be happy, you might be a bit bummed that this album is making you bummed. Or quite possibly, this could be an album to facilitate in a tough spot. Coldplay keeps über fans like me happy and content. There are no flashy gimmicks in Ghost Stories. It’s an album of conquest. You vs. the heart. You win.