Coldplay Album Review: Ghost Stories (2014)

Today, we will be reviewing the sixth album from Coldplay, Ghost Stories. 

In green is my opinion. I greatly enjoyed Coldplay’s first couple of albums, though their newer music does not appeal to me. I hope Ghost Stories is something closer to their original sound that I have grown to love.

In blue is my cousin Robert’s opinion. He too enjoys Coldplay and agrees that Coldplay’s older sound is preferable. He is looking forward to giving this album a listen.

Always In My Head

Always In My Head is a song that throws the listener back to the opening track of Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto by the same name. The ambient sounds present on this track are spacey in the new, familiar Coldplay way. Chris Martin’s vocals are not too shabby, but they aren’t anything special either. The lyrics are unimpressive. Always In My Head is dominated by noise that interrupts the relaxing flow I presume the band was going for. This song is an odd choice to set off this album, as it lacks energy of any sort.

Always In My Head starts off slowly, but then transitions to nice-sounding guitar paired with Chris’s smooth voice. I really love how calm this song sounds. It is a great way to start off the album. Nothing is too loud or overbearing so it is an easy listen, though I do not like how suddenly it ends.

Magic

Beginning with a Red Hot Chili Peppers-styled bass intro, Magic offers a cleanliness that was missing from Always In My Head. Noise doesn’t corrupt the easy flow of the song. Instead, it remains slow and steady, the music fluctuating ever so slightly to keep it moving. The lyrics aren’t poor enough to be called sappy, though they aren’t sung with the gusto with which Chris Martin has previously sung other songs revolving around the topic of love, whether it be love had or love desired. Magic doesn’t have the charm it desires.

I love Magic’s bass intro, but the rest of the song is really boring up until the guitar finally comes in, but even that cannot not save the song. Magic sounds like old-school pop and R&B, which does not appeal to my taste. We do, however, get a nice vocal variety from Chris. I feel that this song could have been better, but it falls short altogether.

Ink

Ink begins with a bright, easy intro that oozes happiness. It was when Chris started to sing that I realized Ink is dark. I dig the irony of the song created by the contrast between the music and the lyrics. The references to Yellow were well appreciated, and the wonky acoustics solidify the throwback to Parachutes. I enjoyed Ink.

I really love the beat this song carries with it. It sounds magical. Ink is lyrically a great song. To me, it seems that Ink is literally about getting tattoos. If I ever got a tattoo, I know my dad would kick me out of the house. Anyway, I feel like this song has a love-centric vibe to it as well. Ink is very pleasant, and I love how it picks up in tempo toward the end.

True Love

With a name like True Love, this song has no other option but to be a grand achievement. Driven by a riff clearly inspired by The Police’s iconic Every Breath You Take, True Love contains emotion. Chris’s offhand vocalizations aren’t meaningless sounds in the case of True Love. His pained state is amplified by the haunted, broken-sounding guitar that sings towards the end of the song. The touch of the guitar was well appreciated. True Love is a successful, memorable song.

True Love has a nice intro. It is a sad song, and its sound reminds me of Radiohead. The violin really helps to establish the sad mood, as does Chris’s vocals. What really steals the show for me is the guitar solo. I never knew Coldplay could pull off a solo like that, and I did not see it coming! True Love can really make you cry, as it counters Ink’s lyrics.

Midnight

I can’t understand a word Chris Martin is saying. The ambient noises that fill Midnight are not calming or interesting. For five minutes, I sat through Midnight waiting for something to happen. This song moves neither forward nor backward. The only musical thing that can be gathered from Midnight is the brief melody that was taken from Paradise. Other than that, it offered nothing of interest. Coldplay attempted to create a progressive, ambient song that climaxed with dynamic sounds. Instead, they crafted an odd, uninteresting song that randomly erupted into nonsensical electronic noises. I did not enjoy Midnight in the slightest.

Right away I heard a Pink Floyd-esque sound in Midnight, and I really love that! It is as if the song is taking you on a night journey that allows you imagine you are travelling through the stars and seeing everything nature has to offer. Midnight is just beautiful. I can lie down on the grass, look up at the sky, and listen to this song.

Another’s Arms

Another’s Arms is a unique song in that it has astounding balance among all of its components. This song swells up and grows into a dynamic groove that is greatly satisfying. The female vocals are top notch, Chris’s lyrics are interesting, the chord progression is potent, and the whole package of Another’s Arms manages to combine all of these elements into a cohesive track. The electronic noises are individual and complementary to the sum of the entire song. Another’s Arms could easily become a live spectacle.

I love the intro to Another’s Arms because of the piano, but I am not a fan of the beat because it reminds me too much of electronic music. I feel like this song could be put into some RPG and be ideal to listen to while exploring vast, open-world environments.

Oceans

Oceans was, unfortunately, a stale song. Martin is unable to control his falsetto on this track. It sounds as if he is forcing the words out in a very unnatural manner. The electronic bleeps don’t help Oceans whatsoever. The violin that intrudes half-way through the track remains in one key, adding more noise and no music to Oceans. The sound of the ocean is a gimmicky conclusion to this fruitless song.

I automatically loved this song from the title alone, but it turns out that Oceans truly is a breath of fresh air for fans of the Parachutes album. I am overjoyed we have a song on this record that showcases Coldplay’s old roots. Oceans is a mellow song with simple guitar-playing that can put me to sleep (in a good way). I love Chris’s vocals, as well as the fact that this track is acoustic-heavy with some string thrown in. I also love the water drop sound that is heard throughout Oceans. The sounds that are present at the end of this song are nice touches, even if most listeners may think that it drags on the track for no reason.

A Sky Full of Stars

A Sky Full of Stars erupts into a flurry of piano, electronic noises, clapping, and acoustics. It is a cheery song that is likely to attract listeners because of its simplicity, but in the end, despite the boldness that it embodies, it is a dance song. Bottom line. I feel that A Sky Full of Stars could have been handled differently, as the easy piano introduction pointed to an older Coldplay-oriented route that could have been taken. 

A Sky Full of Stars starts off with piano that is built up from the end of Oceans. I love the piano in this song, and the mix is pretty great as well! I am usually not a fan of electronic mixes in songs, but Coldplay is making me love them! I can tell Coldplay is being really experimental with this album. A Sky Full of Stars showcases that creativity perfectly.

O

I understand the bird metaphor Chris Martin is trying to illustrate, but I am not buying into it. The message is tired. With Chris behind the keys, I expected more energy and power in the music, but instead, the song is a downer. I do get a hint of emotion from Martin, as he emulates a feeling of true sadness. Other than that, O does not have much going for it. Oh, and that’s a stupid title for a song (says the guy who listens to the Dave Matthews, who wrote songs named #27, Cornbread, and Proudest Monkey. Wait. They have a song called Oh as well. At least they had the common decency to add an ‘h’ at the end).

This magical and creative album ends with O, which is another song that reminds me of Parachutes. It seems to me that this album is trying to be a modern-day Parachutes, and I am fine with that. O is yet another mellow song with great lyrics and piano playing. The ending of O sounds like the beginning of the album, with the bass taking it away for us. I love how Coldplay decided to be creative with this album and add a lot of electronic sounds to it while trying to incorporate some of their old sounds in it as well. Overall, this album sounded much better than I thought it would, and fans should not be afraid of how different the album is. Coldplay, like Avenged Sevenfold, is a band that takes the risk of changing their sound with every album and tries to make it work. Thank you all for reading yet another review and be sure to pick up this album. Check out the 3 bonus songs that go along with it. Stay tuned for more reviews, and if you have not already, go read the dozens of other albums we have reviewed already!

My Top 3

Ink

True Love

Another’s Arms

Rob’s Top 3

True Love

Oceans

Midnight

Ghost Stories from Coldplay is an album that exceeded my expectations. To be blunt, I expected pop trash. Instead, I got an album seasoned with some great material. Coldplay pulled from Parachutes while also experimenting with new, innovative sounds. While not all of it is spectacular, certain songs from Ghost Stories can work its way into the live show in an interesting way, and a variety of the studio recordings will reserve a spot in the hearts of Coldplay fans, old and new. This Porkchop, while it is fatty, is a hearty yet small dose of some great meat. 

~Juck

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One comment on “Coldplay Album Review: Ghost Stories (2014)

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