Coldplay released their sixth studio album, “Ghost Stories” after pre-release promotional hit singles; “Midnight”, “Magic” and “A Sky Full of Stars”, via Altantic Records on 19th May, 2014.
Co-produced by the band with Paul Epworth along with Mylo Xyloto fame producers, Daniel Green and Rik Simpson, the album is almost a concept record that revolves around the idea of one’s past haunting one’s present and future and linking it to the media-hyped “consciously-uncoupled” Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow.
The album starts with distinctly muted variations and Coldplay’s patented Guy Berryman-Jonny Buckland mesh of echoing guitar with “Always in my head”. The beat of melancholy hit the strings of your heart when Chris breaks the sonic background with his soft lyrics, “I think of you, I haven’t slept” and bam! You know this is going to be the break-up album of the season.
You jump to “Magic” with an abrupt ending, and suddenly you begin to hear beats of drums warmly mixed with gentle guitar and weightless piano drifts. With that you sink into “Ink”, a not so cheerful track with soft beats, flawless keyboard and piano swirls. With deep lyrics, “All I know is that I love you so, so much it hurts”, the song moves in a flow towards emptiness of losing the spark where he tries to hold on to what is lost, so much; it hurts.
With Timbaland on board, “True Love” is a doleful song where Chris pours his heart out by saying, “Tell me you love me, if don’t then lie to me” with Will Champion’s soft-drum intervals while symbolizing his failing marriage. The song comes across as a perfect attempt to delineate the slithering pain of piercing heartbreak by coming to terms with all that is lost while telling a tale of lonely love holding on a thin string of hope.
“Midnight” comes as a chilly shocker with clicking piano, shifting bass pad, and no immediate center to the lyrics. The not-so Coldplay song has some excellent electro cues courtesy, “The Fourth State II” by Jon Hopkins and undeniable “robo-teched” voice of Martin throwing light on the of the darkness of pain.
“Another’s Arms” breaks with synth guided minor key melancholia with sweet chorus and lyrics portraying bonafide couple habits with “Late night watching Tv/Used to be here beside me/Used to be your arms around me/Your body on my body”. The song also incorporates a vocal sample from “Silver Cord” by Jane Weaver, which adds true love to the pain and an unsaturated optimistic wave to hold on to the broken pieces giving an accurate depiction of misery.
“Oceans” is the album’s acoustic track with guitar strings of sorrow and pain of rejection. Chris through this track comes in terms with his genuine “Ghost Stories” of rejection and the lonesome path ahead.
He ends the track by consoling his broken heart with reassuring lyrics, “Got to find yourself in this world”.
“A Sky Full of Star” marks the band’s first raving dance track outlined with EDM influences, emerging an energetic, heartfelt piano ballad in perfect composition with pounding electronics. It gives the album a different twist and shows that everything is not about Chris and Gwyneth. However, the lyrics seem to declare Chris’s undying love, where he doesn’t seem to care “if she tears him apart”. Irrelevant of the lyrics, the song brings pumps to the album making a happy drive back home (on the highway of life.)
“O” concludes the album on a positive note with them typical Coldplay soothing piano ballads hoping that “maybe one day I’ll fly with you”. The song ends the album as a perfect consoling track showing light in the end of the dark tunnel of rejection and hurt. Chris’s heartfelt lyrics, ask you to “Fly on” more like asking you to “Carry on” while solacing from heartache. It puts an end to the emotional treadmill with commiserating melody oozing compassionate optimism.
Ghost Stories emerges a transitional album, full of sonic details, sad girl echoes and beats of ‘Magic’ and ‘Ink’. The deep lyrics, echoing guitars, sudden electronics and the same old acoustic piano ballads bring out the usual and the unusual Coldplay in 9 tracks and 43 minutes.
Amidst all, the album stays committed to the sentiment of dying love while battling with ghosts of broken relationships with sanguine lyrics asking Chris, “And if you were to ask me/After all that we have been through/Still believe in magic? He replies by resisting the ghosts of his past with, “Ofcourse, I do!”
TRIVIA: Apple and Moses Martin appear as guest vocalists on the final track O! Getting their first vocal break on their parents break-up album, maybe isn’t a very good idea?
The album cover for Ghost Stories is etched by Czech artist Mile Furstove, featuring a pair of angel wings imposed onto a painting of an ocean under a sky at night. The images include a couple in love, a man facing a mission, a flight of white doves, amongst other imagery depicted in the artwork.