Coldplay - Ghost Stories

Ghost Stories is a breakup album, but it’s also a Coldplay album. “Call it magic/ Cut me into two,” Chris Martin sings amidst the iridescent churn of lead single “Magic,” presumably referencing the excruciating pain that accompanied his much-publicized “conscious uncoupling.” But before the song is even over, he’s declaring, “Still believe in magic/ Yes I do,” as if appalled that you would even ask. “Of course I do.”

Of course he does. We’re dealing with Martin, our generation’s foremost earnest arena-rock balladeer, the man who never met a chord progression he couldn’t turn into a Hallmark greeting. His entire career rests on the premise that magic exists and that it sounds like the stars shining for you. So even though almost every song on Ghost Stories seems to directly reference the end of Martin’s marriage to Gwyneth Paltrow, the album isn’t drowning in despair a la Blood On The Tracks or any of the myriad breakup records where the darkness is so profound you can’t imagine it ever lifting. This is a deeply wistful album, a thoughtful reflection on how Martin ended up with a broken heart, but it’s less the sound of wallowing than working through pain and waving goodbye. It is hopeful, if only because a Coldplay album without hope is a contradiction in terms.

Given the circumstances, the subject matter here is darker and more personal, a far cry from Mylo Xyloto’s semi-ridiculous narrative about love conquering all. Martin begins the album singing about not being able to sleep because he’s so possessed by the memory of what he’s lost. On “Ink,” he gets a tattoo as a way of grasping at that fading connection. He lashes out at his lover’s alleged lies on “True Love” even as he strains to bring back the old feelings: “And I wish you would have let me know/ What’s really going on below/ I’ve lost you now, you’ve let me go/ But one last time/ Tell me you love me.” But by the time Ghost Stories gets around to its big finish, Martin is proclaiming that he doesn’t mind being torn apart on the better-to-have-loved-and-lost anthem “A Sky Full Of Stars.” Closing track “O” functions as a comedown and an open ellipsis, the sound of our wounded protagonist imagining a future when he can finally move forward. He isn’t there yet, but he’s entertaining the possibility.

The sounds they’ve conjured to communicate these sentiments are not always immediately recognizable as Coldplay. The band has long since broken free of the Radiohead comparisons that dogged their early years, having taken a right turn at U2 and somehow ended up duetting with Rihanna. But the Kid A references began moments after Ghost Stories hit the internet yesterday, and they’re not entirely crazy. Again, this band is never going to capture the alienation and paranoia Thom Yorke was channeling at the dawn of the Bush administration, but there are times when Coldplay seem to have gone back and attempted to pick up where they left off, trading the cuddlier version of ’90s Radiohead we heard on Parachutes and A Rush Of Blood To The Head for a cuddlier version of postmillennial Radiohead. The songs are encased in a digital exoskeleton, often with busy programmed snare skitters seemingly culled from Yorke’s beloved late-’90s IDM, that meshes with guitars and keyboards to form bleary sonic horizons and warm electro-organic grooves. There’s a general cloud of malaise hovering over the music that had floated out of the picture entirely on the buoyant and bombastic Mylo Xyloto. Somber finale “O” even has an ethereal callback secret track at the end a la Kid A closer “Motion Picture Soundtrack.”

That said, to belabor the Radiohead thing any further would be a disservice to Coldplay and to you. For one thing, there are plenty of other familiar ingredients in play throughout Ghost Stories: Sigur Rós and James Blake are probably more appropriate parallels for the gorgeous celestial drift that is album opener “Always In My Head.” Single-of-the-year candidate “Magic” carries echoes of the xx. And yes, the LP-demarcating “Midnight” still sounds unmistakably like Bon Iver. More importantly, despite all its callbacks to the past 15 years of electronically infused post-rock, Ghost Stories feels like the arena-rock album of the future. Paul Epworth, best known for producing Adele’s unflinchingly retro 21, here reminds us he is also a master of ushering classic sounds into forward-thinking frameworks (see: Bloc Party’s Silent Alarm, Friendly Fires’ “Jump In The Pool,” Foster The People’s “Pumped Up Kicks”). Epworth has some assistance: Timbaland shows up to add “Apologize”-style schmaltz to “True Love,” and the French electronic producer Madeon contributes atmospheric touches to the not-particularly-electronic “Always In My Head” and “O.” Most obviously, the polarizing Avicii collab “A Sky Full Of Stars,” which functions as the album’s climax, successfully grafts Coldplay’s old-fashioned breed of festival-killing splendor into today’s prevailing euphoric thump.

But Ghost Stories often goes a step beyond boilerplate dance-pop into what’s becoming known as “post-EDM,” in which the mainstream electronic dance music that has proliferated for the past half-decade no longer functions as a novelty but as a natural part of the atmosphere. Even when all but the essentials are stripped away on “Oceans,” an acoustic ballad that could almost pass for a Parachutes outtake, the strums are punctuated by computerized blips that sound like OS errors. The sound feels like a natural progression from Mylo Xyloto, but also a retreat from that album’s gaudy concept and translucent neon bombast. Those wild flashes of color have mostly given way to muted tones, the maximal production pared back into something relatively spare. (Hey, if Yeezus can pass for minimalism, Ghost Stories can too.) Creatively, Martin’s breakup couldn’t have come at a better time; after scaling the heights of cartoonish rock opera, where else could they turn but inward?

Coldplay are well into their second decade by now, and as they’ve journeyed from coffeehouse alt-rock toward the center of the musical universe, they’ve arguably become more adventurous, not less. Ever since they steered out of the rut that was 2005′s X&Y with the creative renaissance of 2008′s art-damaged Viva La Vida, they’ve been challenging notions of what an arena-rock band can be without forgoing the pop instincts that got them there. They still take cues from their forebears, but the band’s last three albums are all unique creations unto themselves, far more inspired and in step with modern life than, say, the collection of Stop Making Sense and Zooropa retreads their would-be peers Arcade Fire released last year. Ghost Stories has its drawbacks — the drum programming can be intrusive, and the attempt at a mournful guitar solo on “True Love” feels both out of place and out of tune — but on the whole, the album is a further testament to Coldplay’s unheralded greatness, another knockout punch from a band that has too often been reduced a punchline. Martin may not have realized what a good thing he had until it was gone; let’s not make the same mistake.

Ghost Stories is out 5/19 on Parlophone/Atlantic. Stream it here.

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Comments (90)
  1. Great write up Chris. I said this before but I’ll say it again: to me, Ghost Stories sounds like a Chris Martin solo album (perhaps a “cuddlier” version of The Eraser?). Everything he says here is so sad and (most-likely) personal. I mean, I’ve never heard such downtrodden and depressing lyrics from Martin than on “True Love” (which is an ironic title in itself given its contents): “Tell me you love me, if you don’t then lie to me.” Shit man! That’s some real heartbreak. It’s like seeing your happy go lucky, optimistic friend suddenly break down and cry before you. It’s pretty sad, but the music is really solid. It’s too bad they felt the need to force “A Sky Full of Stars” in there, seemingly just in hopes to land a hollow, cash-grab Top 40 hit.

  2. There are so many great moments on this album, the only real flaw I see in it is ASFoS.

    But I actually really love this album, it’s not groundbreaking or life changing, but rather something nice to listen to after a long day of work, glass of wine in hand.

  3. Stereogum has to know that a huge chunk of your loyal reader base is absolutely apathetic (or outright hostile) toward this band. Chris, I admire your steadfastness. I think Coldplay is flaccid and no bueno, but I kind of love how you tune all that out and just write about some shit you love.

    I may even listen to this album now.

    • This drums up the ole argument of when is it not cool to appreciate a band whose career started out with such ‘indie grandeur,’ labeled as the next golden boys only to fall victim by the stadium sellouts.

      I, for one, have grown humble in my (older) age and realize that there are many more important things to focus on than when a band has decided to ‘sell out,’ so to speak, and you really can’t fault this band in that particular respect for doing so anyway. C’mon, it was inevitable. They’ve held up their end of the bargain and its more or less made them evolve into what they are today whether they’ve liked it or not….a talented and emotionally charged alternative band of hopeless romantics that have figured out how to amplify their cinematic appeal. Think of Snow Patrol for instance…there’s a band with the same DNA yet have slowly receded into the tide over the years primarily because, well, they just don’t have the same creative well to dip into or consistent ear grabbing hooks. Essentially, they are rolling down the same path as U2, or where Radiohead is dangerously treading. Really, the only difference is that Martin and the boys have eliminated the mystique.

      These guys were smart with this album…they recognize where there are currently at, and made great effort to still acknowledge the radio friendly crowd while at the same time keeping their distance where they can in order to come away with us thinking that they are turning into some sorta influential force with the infinite (aging) wisdom.

      Its funny, I’ve been reading some other reviews and comments of this album and it seems like a lot of the critique is sliced right down the middle…the ones who hate the album point out that pop candy like Stars in the Sky and Magic are awesome, and the ones who like it are those who point out the more spacious ones like Always in my Head and Midnight, etc. Nonetheless, Coldplay has and always will be polarizing for the avid music fan. They are a band that, whether you like it or not, show the starving artist that, yes, you can do it. And, we’ll all prosper from it.

      • Funny that Radiohead can put out 6 bulletproof (iwishiwas) albums in a row, yet “The King of Limbs” was all it took for public opinion to question whether they still got it.

        I may be misinterpreting that small facet of your well typed post homesickalien (seeing as how you’re likely just as huge a Radiohead fan as anybody here). Either way, it’s interesting how all it takes is one album these days for people to cast away a band they used to love. (Centipede Hz anybody?)

        • Oh for sure….in this day and age, we all want the same-version-of-what-we-hope-it-once-was-when-we first-heard-it-but-please-make-if-different-and-more-kick-ass-this-time-around-sorta philosophy!

          Then, Radiohead comes from around the corner and gives us all another Bends, and all is immediately forgiven, well, that is unless iTunes gives us a stream of it instead of NPR the week before release…then, they’re back in the shitter.

          • Wait, did iTunes early stream “The King of Limbs” or something? I don’t recall any of that, is that why you’re claiming they’d be in / were in the shitter?

        • There are always going to be people who hope that Radiohead is going to make an album that sounds like The Bends, and then be disappointed, but that’s been true for every album they’ve made since “Kid A” (Amnesiac was initially viewed as disposable and strange, but now most fans view it as some of their best work).

          I would say that it’s the same thing with a lot of Kanye fans who want more albums that should like “Graduation” or Animal Collective fans who want more stuff that sounds like “Merriweather Post Pavilion”.

          My general point is that that one album radically changing public opinion typically only exists within the first wave of reactions. But that’s just my opinion.

        • Also (though this veers even more off-topic), where does the hate (if there is hate) for TKOL come from? I can understand it not being on a pedestal along In Rainbows (and other rightfully lauded ‘recent-ish’ Radiohead) but the album has many fantastic songs and moments:

          ‘Bloom’ is incredible; ‘Codex’ is a perfect Thom ballad to add to the canon; ‘Separator’ is a beautiful jam that grows like the album’s theme desires; ‘Little By Little’ is just a great rocker that is so fun and textured. I won’t even start on the B-Sides.

          I think I might give ‘Separator’ a spin right now. (These Coldplay songs are also very nice)

          • Whoa, whoa, whoa….no one is bashing Radiohead! Nothing to see here, everybody…. carry on….

          • Auto  |   Posted on May 14th +3

            I never got the TKoL hate either, I think it is a wonerful album start to finish. The guitar licks at the end of ‘Separator’ rank up with ‘Motion Picture Soundtrack’ for Radiohead’s most gorgeous finishing moment.

      • There was a time before Coldplay sold out?

    • agreed. good music writing makes you want to explore avenues that you might not have on your own.

  4. Just listened to the guitar solo on True Love, definitely not out of tune, just outside (and barely out at that). You gotta go listen to some more jazz or something, broaden those guitar horizons.

    Always remember that not every song on every album is a verbatim life story of the artist. There’s good reason for you to think that this is Martin pouring out every bit of his heart here, whether he is or not… $$$$$. That said, at times during my first listen I even felt like this album is an optimistic first look at a new life for him, like he’s already moving on (I feel like it’s time to keep an eye on TMZ for pics of him and his new crush or something). I don’t find Martin to be a super deep person, but breaking free of the shallow clutches of Paltrow has gotta give any person some new life.

    Agreed on Stereogum’s unabashed Coldplay love; I’ve been down with them since day one though they lost me in the middle there. I’m glad to see this album come back around; Martin has always done subtle really well. Still have great memories of driving several hours to see them play a small early show in Mpls at First Ave, all the way to their headlining spot at ACL a couple of years ago. For some reason I can’t quit these boys.

  5. Love to see how stereogum would update their colplay “worst to best”, where would this fall…3rd best?

    • If I was still the one writing it, I’d say #4 would be a safe bet. I haven’t listened to the entirety of Ghost Stories yet, but having seen most of the songs live and having heard the songs they released ahead of time, so far I’d say it strikes me as an improvement on Mylo Xyloto. But I don’t think it’d challenge Parachutes, A Rush of Blood to the Head, or Viva La Vida in the top 3.

      • I like Rush and VLV but for me it’d be a question of whether you like the best halves of those albums > the whole of this, since I think about half of each are zzzzz.

        VLV together with the EP follow-up gives you more material to work with though

  6. Wait. So…you’re saying that Coldplay is better than Arcade Fire, and that Ghost Stories is better than Reflektor? Just trying to get this straight.

    With full recognition that, especially on this site, there seems to be a backlash to the Coldplay backlash, and that they’re generally being propped back up on this “perfect blend of art-rock sensibilities and arena-rock mainstream accessibility” pedestal, I don’t really get the re-acceptance of this group in the “indie-rock” community (for lack of a better descriptor). I am prepared for a negative reaction to this sentiment, but let me clarify that I don’t dislike Coldplay (especially anything leading up to “Viva…” which I thought was totally overrated) but I find their “adventurousness” to be highly overstated. I don’t really see the sonic/thematic leaps on this album as being any more or less adventurous than anything else you’d hear all day on a Ryan Seacrest hosted radio show. The music and lyrics are pleasant and a bit saccharine and totally fine, which is the rub I have with comparisons to Sigur Ros or James Blake and with declarations of some sort of mainstream transcendence. I think it’s all a bit of a stretch for what amounts to pretty straightforward pop music.

    Sorry about all the quotation marks.

    • You are correct that I am saying Ghost Stories is better than Reflektor. I don’t think I am ready to say Coldplay is better than Arcade Fire; for all my bluster about Coldplay, they’ve never made an album on par with Funeral.

    • I think Reflektor was a fairly bang average album, easily their worst. It hasn’t taken much for Ghost Stories to be a better album than Reflektor, an album that thinks far too much. Just because it is Arcade Fire (architects of two of the best albums of the last 10 years) doesn’t mean to say we excuse them from an album that retreads roads laid down by Bowie and U2 in a rather uninspired manner.

      As for Coldplay you underestimate them and appear irrational towards any praise that is rightly served upon the band. No one is overstating their adventurousness. While they might not be groundbreaking they can never be accused of making the same album twice. No one is claiming they are making leaps. They don’t. They make tentative forays, delicately adding different musical references to their work that only serve to keep a winning formula fresh. And who can deny Chris Martin’s phenomenal and deft ability to craft a good old fashioned melody, a talent that is too often overlooked in the critical world these days in favour of production and instrumental wankery.

      • I really think I was being pretty fair and “rational” – I said I didn’t dislike the music but that I think the hype surrounding this one, especially with regards to its “adventurousness,” has been a bit unwarranted. You say “no one is overstating their adventurousness,” but I say that people ARE doing that. So, agree to disagree? Also, I can deny all that stuff about Chris Martin, because I can do whatever I want with my opinions. And I still think Reflektor is a better album than this one, so there’s another opinion.

    • I too have been a Coldplay fan for a long time (I even quite liked a lot of Mylo Xyloto), but I think the heaping of praise upon them recently has been part of larger trends in the critical community to overcorrect for past scorn of various types of music. I’ll admit I don’t like Reflektor nearly as much as I did when I first listened to it, but I will say that the Arcade Fire backlash as of late seems to be driven by mostly non-musical reasons.

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      • I think you are right on. There seems to be a big movement among the “tastemakers” in support of pop music, probably as a reaction to the negative connotations that associated this crowd with pretension. I will clarify, again, that I don’t dislike this or a lot of other pop music – it’s just that the pendulum seems to have swung too far in the opposite direction.

        • Auto  |   Posted on May 14th +2

          To me it seems like any Coldplay song which strays from the established Coldplay sound is branded as ‘adventurous’, even if the same song under a different name would be considered fairly tame.

          To me everything from ‘Ghost Stories’ is fairly middle of the road and risk free. Which is totally what we expect from Coldplay, and that is fine, but I’ll agree with Hartford that I think they are given more ‘adventurous’ cred than is due.

          • Adventurous in light of their contemporaries. Elbow is the most esteemed British rock band in ten years. Songs from Asleep in the Back could have been sequenced in Takeoff and Landing. They’re sound is incredible but their sound hasn’t changed. Adventurous they are not. Muse makes apocalyptic songs. Snow Patrol writes weepy rock. In terms of UK rock, Coldplay easily shakes up their sound more than bands who fill the same stadiums they do. No reason not to acknowledge that.

          • @ Wohner

            Muse? Are you kidding? Whether you love them or hate them, there is no way you can say they are less adventurous than Coldplay.

    • Reflektor was massively overrated.

  7. EDM for Dads

  8. Definitely feeling a strong Peter Gabriel vibe. The album as a whole has got that atmospheric space that they really do well as a band when in the right mindset. Clearly, he is purging, which is fine…if only we all could use making popular music the outlet for that purpose ourselves.

    It’s got its radio friendly moment for sure, but you can’t knock them for it at this point (but we all will). The real deal here is that, yet again, they changed slight pace and added another dimension to their library. It also comes off more refreshing on the back heels of Viva La Vida & Mylo merely because those were so much more stadium reaching.

  9. “Post-EDM that’s a natural a part of the atmosphere”? What does that mean exactly? Pop music has borrowed from electronic dance music since at least the late 70s, so I don’t really see how this is a new development, especially since most pop songs have used drum machines since at least the early 90s. Aside from obviously “A Sky Full of Stars,” I don’t really hear much EDM throughout the rest of this album either. Definitely some electronic influences (nailed the James Blake comparison), but don’t really see any of that as “EDM” per se.

  10. But Kid A was the sound of 6 talented and genuine musicians (counting Nigel Godrich) taking inspiration from electronic music (from its postwar inception in academia, through analog seventies krautrock and right up to the most cutting-edge digital things being put out by Warp Records, etc.) to create something new. Coldplay is the sound of a bunch of rich guys hiring a bunch of rich producers to make everyone involved richer.

    • ts24  |   Posted on May 13th +3

      your intentions are IMPURE I say!!

      • i don’t care about intentions. That is what the new Coldplay sounds like. Focus-grouped big-business cultural output. Need thump? Get Timbaland. Wanna get played when the kids are coming down from E? Get Avicii. Wanna get the housewives? Time your divorce for maximum album hype. Kid A is a fucking masterpiece. This is bullshit masquerading as emotion. One’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, the other’s Armageddon.

        • ts24  |   Posted on May 13th +3

          lol@”time your divorce”

          The way you’re talking makes me think you haven’t actually listened to it, if you have though you’re just completely off-base, cuz “Sky Full of Stars” is the only overt crowd pleaser reach here

          also I did read Timbaland did something here (mentioned in review?) but I didn’t hear any song where he was noticeable so the idea that they got some big extra thump to appeal to the cool kidz is laughable

        • I know the Kid A and the Ghost Stories can coexist peacefully anyway, think of it as a slightly peppier less wrist-slitting complement

    • ha radiohead4life but this is just foolish, if you had the tools at your disposal why wouldnt you? its not like they are purely a marketing machine

    • A bit of misinformation about 6 musicians. Kid A is basically Jonny Greenwood, Thom Yorke and Godrich. The rest of the band (they even admitted) were put in a corner during the recording.

  11. Ghost Stories is a lovely and refreshing release by Coldplay. It’s a swift, small, delicate and minimalist affair and these qualities make it the natural cousin of the band’s debut LP Parachutes. However the electronic flourish that pulses right through the album means a quite different affair from Parachutes.

    Ghost Stories seems like the album that should have followed Parachutes and A Rush Of Blood To The Head. It’s introspective appeal and maturity harks back to that early 00s period rather than the three albums of stadium conquering status that intersected their second and sixth releases. Only A Sky Full Of Stars pairs itself up with those grand terms and as such is very contrary to the rest of Ghost Stories’ offerings.

    The album is bookended with the best opener/closer combo since A Rush Of Blood To The Head’s Politik and Amsterdam. “Always In My Head” and “O” are achingly beautiful and tentatively delivered, the latter possibly the most wistful and heartbreaking performance Chris Martin has ever delivered on record. At the heart of the record, “Midnight” influences the tracks around it with its’ darkness and lonely beauty, expertly produced by Jon Hopkins.

    Ghost Stories, for me, is up there with A Rush Of Blood To The Head and Viva La Vida as one of their three best albums. It has the replay quality of those albums and matches the songwriting and crafting consistencies that made those two albums far and away their best albums. It doesn’t lag in the way Parachutes does. It doesn’t fail to achieve like X&Y and it certainly doesn’t replicate anything near to the messy and overblown Mylo Xyloto. Without being mind blowing, it’s intricate, sober and comforting.

  12. Whoever it was the was saying A Sky Full of Stars would sound better in the context of the album, you were wrong.

  13. I like that their albums at least always sound cohesive. You get what the feel is that they’re going for and they stick to it, even if the feel isn’t that great.

    It’s a pop record through and through. At least it’s listenable, which I can’t say for very many other 2014 albums.

    Are there any other BIG albums coming out this year? Nothing on the horizon really.

  14. i didnt mind the little synth build up rush into ASFoS as much as i thought i would, i dunno 4 times through, i dig it and that’s all i really ask for from this band, can we leave it there?

  15. i dont get it. i really dont. at what point did it suddenly stop being acceptable to dislike coldplay? im not saying that they are terrible and unlistenable but they’re just so.. boring. and predictable. this album is nothing special guys

  16. I’ve been a Coldplay fan since I was 18 and I first heard “Yellow” and Parachutes. I don’t mean to sound ageist, but maybe you had to be there. In the year 2000, mainstream rock was the WORST and Coldplay was a breath of fresh air. By the time Rush of Blood came out in summer 2002, the mainstream rock landscape had changed completely and there were far more “cool” bands around to latch onto.

    But I was hooked, and I grew with them, and I’ve loved every album they’ve put out so far (though not necessarily ever song!). I think “Hurts Like Heaven” is one of the best songs of the decade so far.

    • I love Hurts Like Heaven. Honestly it’s one of my favorite Coldplay songs ever but no one even knows it because they didn’t make it a single.

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  18. I’m a huge Coldplay fan but I think this response seems a bit much. Coldplay exist, for me, as a band where I can still embrace my sort of inner tween and get pretty lost in it all. Pure honest emotion. Everything is just…straightforward. But the thing is you know Martin believes it. That’s why this band is as successful as they are when there are plenty of pop knockoffs who cannot touch them. You believe Martin. You believe he believes fully what he’s saying. And sometimes you have to shake your head at that and sometimes you just have to say, “YEAH. I BELIEVE IT TOO”. Often, it’s about the same song.

    Coldplay are a band that have made 4 albums I’m in love with. VLV and MX are pure bombast and I just don’t listen to much else that does that for me. Probably because I’m a white boy much like Martin. His bombast is mine.

    Ghost Stories, while it continues to grow on me, doesn’t seem to reach their heights. Perhaps more precisely I could say that albums I love tend to carve out their own niche in my life. Some of Coldplay’s stuff hasn’t aged so well for me because there’s stuff that does it better. VLV and MX, while riffing off MANY, are pure Coldplay to me. I can’t get that anywhere else. Ghost Stories goes for emotions in a way that perhaps I just can’t get into anymore.

    I think it says something that the most emotionally profound moment, for me, on the album is the barely discernible singing (by his daughter and her friend – I listened to the Zane Lowe interview) “Come on (or go on) look at me”.

    THAT CUT ME when I finally understood it. The desperation is so real and unfiltered. Like, even though it’s two young girls singing it, you can see someone yelling that. You believe that it happened. That he said that. And it stuck with him. And he couldn’t even sing it himself because it was TOO REAL. Everything else just feels like a lie someone tells themselves or the world or something that is generic.

    A breakup album needs to be raw. It’s why I love Age of Adz by Sufjan Stevens. It’s why Reflektor is, for all it’s architecture, I think very poignant. Or fucking Fake Plastic Trees way back then. There is no filter on the emotion or when there is it’s an artistic one meant to show just how raw the emotion is. Whereas this stuff seems the bland things you say to someone when you’ve broken up and you’re just trying to keep it together.

    That’s it for me. Coldplay are a band I connect with on a truly emotional level. Musically I can have misgivings but at the end of the day it gets into me. I’m not thinking. I’m feeling. And that’s really hard when you know how painful a breakup can be. You know the raw emotional stuff. This, for having it’s moments you cited that are pure Martin (I believe he does believe in Magic), just is largely dishonest in my estimation.

    Maybe I’ve just never been delusional about a person who has broken up with me.

  19. This is the natural comedown of Mylo Xyloto where the glowsticks and light-up bracelets that illuminated the arena begin to dim on the night drive home or when you sink back into your lonely apartment, tuning out the world with your headphones. Given the context of the celebrity break-up angle between Goopy and Martin, songs like “True Love” sound like a better version of Silverchair attempted to do on their final album / Daniel Johns’ post-Imbruglia breakup.

  20. Rabble, rabble. Radiohead. Arcade Fire. X Factor. OWWWOOOOOOO!

  21. I’m surprised there’s no mention of the fact that with this album Coldplay have finally turned into what they were always threatening to become: A soft rock, ‘adult contemporary’ band. Until now they’ve always had enough edge (Politik) to balance out the saccharine (The Scientist), but they’ve finally succeeded in making an album your aunt can enjoy the whole way through.

    Going Euro/club-light for a single or two is the oldest trick in the book for older artists grasping for relevance (think Cher ‘Believe’), yet because we’re in the middle of an EDM fad it’s somehow seen as a bold move. And the melodies on this album are amongst Coldplay’s weakest. I’m amazed that in two short album cycles they’ve gone from the pop perfection of “Viva la Vida” to the lazy “A Sky Full of Stars”.

    I’ve always been more of a Coldplay lover than a hater, but I really don’t think they deserve a pass for this MOR piece of artistic surrender.

    • never liked “Viva la Vida” the song, idk, just me

      actually they’ve had a pretty spotty record on their massive singles post-”Clocks” imo

  22. I feel completely ambivalent about Coldplay these days, except for the fact that every time they put out a new album I go back and listen to “A Rush of Blood to the Head.”

    • ts24  |   Posted on May 15th -3

      let’s not front though, about half of that album deserves the typical Coldplay criticism.

      Still could care less about “The Scientist” too, total drag

  23. I heard the first 5 songs and purchased the vinyl immediately. I enjoy all of Coldplay’s albums, even X&Y and Mylo Xyloto. “Square One,” “White Shadows,” “Speed of Sound,” “Low,” and “Hurts Like Heaven” are among some of the best and last vestiges of classic British arena rock left in the post-modern era.

    And the last 2 Arcade Fire albums are amazing. WTF?

  24. Skrillex KILLED it on Sky Full of Stars. Best song on the album.

  25. True Love is a great song and very idiomatic of Coldplay. This is a good album, but somewhat forgettable…which is disappointing considering the subject matter of the album.

  26. Also, this album is crazy sad.

  27. Revelatory because it is a Coldplay album about something, with a human and personal theme. The past few albums had crazy theatrical themes (love as a superhero, love during a revolution, whatever), but nothing as relatable as this.

  28. I guess the most damning thing I can think to say is Coldplay just flat bores me to tears.

  29. The Quietus just f******* punched this album in the guts. Hard.
    http://thequietus.com/articles/15274-coldplay-ghost-stories-review

    • ts24  |   Posted on May 16th +3

      site is probably the worst & most pointlessly ideological music crit rag out there but they’ve really outdone themselves with the self-parody here

    • By the way, don’t shoot the messenger.
      I gave up Coldplay since their first album.
      They exist, they have fans, they have haters, good for them.
      And if you like their last record, good for you.

    • Okay, so that review is tasteless, irrelevant, too easy and completely below the standard that Quietus usually sets. Should properly never have written. But for this line only, I’ve completely forgiven them:
      ‘A Sky Full Of Stars’ breaks into a disco house groove but it’s funkless like a f***ing HSBC staff party – “wave your arms in the air, finish your f***ing mineral water and be back at your desks at 7.15 sharp tomorrow morning!”

  30. Has anyone recognized how beautiful O is? That is one HELL of a closer.

  31. How on earth did this album get mentioned in the same breath as kid a?. Just …no.

  32. If I went to someone’s house and they had on a Coldplay album I would think their taste in music is highly questionable and would be slightly embarrassed for them.

  33. Where have serious comparisons been drawn between Coldplay and Radiohead, really? I read a lot of music writing & journalism, and can’t say I’ve seen much of it. And it’s a fairly ridiculous comparison, in as much as it’s just wildly musically inappropriate. As I’ve heard said, ‘Monk can play Stravinsky, but Stravinsky could never have played Monk’. Guess who’s who in this comparison!?! I love Arcade Fire but had no use for any of Reflektor, any of the pomp or hype around it, and just to sink myself further in the eyes of readers here, I’ve never really given a shit about James Murphy either. Never been moved by LCD at all the way so many are. I love, love ‘The Suburbs’, damn there was some great songwriting on that album. I like it better than ‘Funeral’ but a lot. Reflektor lacked the songs, it was instantly noticeable right off the bat to me – these songs suck but people are gaga because there’s a dance beat. Wee. I hope they get back to doing what they do well, but whatevs. With Coldplay, it seems to me that what they do best is ‘Yellow’, and then making a follow-up album to the debut that actually exhibited some limited amount of musical growth. To me, ‘Yellow’ always just sounded like Dave Matthews fronting a very, very boring indie band. Radiohead, Arcade Fire, not everything they do is amazing. But they have done truly amazing songwriting. Coldplay has never come close, to my ears, they just happened to be just above average in the post-9/11 doldrums, and that was enough to win a lot of hearts and minds. But I don’t hate them, just nothing I’ve heard has ever really grabbed me, or struck me as particularly interesting, risky or adventurous. Chris Martin is, like, a regular dude. Thom Yorke mercilessly interrogates his artistic sensibilities more than his fiercest critics do. And the results show it.

  34. ts24  |   Posted on May 20th -1

    Radiohead ain’t been shit since Kid A real talk. Cliché maybe, but their experiments got way more aimless after that

    also Breihan you gotta keep your Pitchfork hoes in check, scoring this as the worst Coldplay album is nutso

  35. ts24  |   Posted on May 20th -2

    ok i’m not being fair to Radiodudes, The Eraser was half a good album

  36. Boring music for boring people.

  37. This is a great review, absolutely spot-on.

    “It is hopeful, if only because a Coldplay album without hope is a contradiction in terms.” *YES.*

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