james debate
james debate

Wednesday 18 June 2014

Genre Alternative Rock
Label Parlophone
Producers Tim Bergling, Coldplay, Paul Epworth, Daniel Green, Jon Hopkins, Rik Simpson

coldplay ghost stories midnight magic sky full of stars album 2014

It's been three years since Coldplay's last album Mylo Xyloto, and six years since their last good album Viva la Vida, and yet such is the band's star power that a new album commands worldwide attention. Ghost Stories is no exception.

This latest album marks quite a departure for the band, which has become synonymous in recent years with roof raising, stadium filling anthems. The first album to be written since frontman Chris Martin's much publicized break up with Gwyneth Paltrow, Ghost Stories takes a decidedly more introverted style, full of ballads and semi-acoustic tracks.

On paper it's a good move for them, seemingly a throwback to the band's earlier style in the days of Yellow, Trouble and the Scientist, but unfortunately Ghost Stories never really recaptures the delicate brilliance of those songs, and far too much of this album feels lacking in inspiration.

There are bright spots. A Sky Full of Stars is a stunning track, Coldplay at their stadium filling best. This is the only track on the album that attempts this style and it's a real corker. Maybe there's a reason Coldplay record so many songs in this style after all.

Midnight, on the other hand, shows how good the band can be when they try something different. Not quite a throwback to their early acoustic stuff, not quite embracing the electronica bent of Mylo Xyloto. Midnight will inevitably draw unfair comparisons to Imogen Heap's Hide and Seek, but this does a disservice to a wonderful song.

Unfortunately other than this, there's not much else of note in the short 9 track album. It's not that the other songs are bad, mind you; Ink, Oceans, True Love, pretty much every song is perfectly decent and pleasant to listen to, but they're very unremarkable. There is nothing here that anyone will remember in a year's time.

It also doesn't help that many songs here happen to sound distractingly similar to other songs. Ink bears a guitar riff identical to that of Tracy Chapman's classic Fast Car, and hugely similar verse structure. Another's Arms has pretty much the same verse as James' Peaches. Say nothing of Midnight which we've already covered. Again, it's not that they're bad songs, it's just that even on the first listen I could have sworn I'd heard them all before.

Ultimately though, Ghost Stories marks a definite improvement on the mediocre Mylo Xyloto. When this album hits it hits good with some of Coldplay's finest moments in a long time. Sky Full of Stars in particular is an instant Coldplay classic. The rest is perfectly fine, but fairly forgettable. Pop a few tracks on your summer playlist and move on.

Must Listen :
A Sky Full of Stars

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