Coldplay – Ghost Stories

coldplay-ghost-stories-album-coverThis month sees the release ofGhost Stories, the sixth album from UK stalwarts Coldplay.

Coldplay are a marmite band it seems. I’ve always loved them, whilst others argue that simply proves I have no taste in music! I first saw them supporting Muse in June 2000 at a tiny club show in Glasgow and they made everyone in that venue sit up and take notice, and I have ever since.

The album which followed soon after that show was their debut,Parachutes.At the time there was a bit of an “acoustic movement” happening with the likes of Turin Brakes, Starsailor and even other indie bands such as Stereophonics and Travis moving more to the acoustic band sound.Parachutes is a fantastic album. A strong, songwriters album with great lyrics, great melody and just the right amount of electric guitar sound to keep it interesting.

Follow-up,A Rush of Blood to the Head and later albums were much more electric, moved in different directions, added dance elements, pop elements and generally split the fan-base and record buying public. For what it’s worth, I’ve enjoyed their exploration and diversity.

It is now then that with the release of Ghost Stories that Coldplay have produced an album which is a worthy follow-up to debut Parachutes. I’m not saying the other albums are poor, far from it, just that musically this latest release is a real bedfellow to their first full length release.

On my first listen I found the album one-dimensional, vaguely reminiscent of a movie soundtrack, and generally boring. How wrong I was!Written at the time of martial strife, the album is as emotionally wrought and pained as life must have been. Although not quite fully acoustic, the tone of the album is mellow, downbeat, shares some electronic moments, but more as background soundscapes to the pain captured in the lyrics. This is a break-up album, there is no doubt about it.

My stand out tracks are’Magic’, ‘Midnight’, ‘Oceans’ (which ends in a whirlpool sound with the sound of (wedding?) church bells chiming and growing more distant) and the fantastic ‘Sky Full of Stars’. It is this last track which sounds like the more recent version of Coldplay. The one who wrote brilliant singles from ‘Clocks’ through to ‘Every Teardrop is a Waterfall’ and many in-between. It comes towards the end of Ghost Stories and leaves you feeling as if you’ve travelled through the pain and hurt of a relationship failing and now you are starting to see the glimmer of hope, the light at the end of the tunnel, of life moving on, feeling brighter as every minute of the song plays.

I fear this album will get dismissed by many. I almost did, but after repeated listens the slow-burner that it is, reveals itself of the true majesty which it contains. Listen to this late at night, pour yourself a whiskey and put headphones on; give yourself a deserving treat.

Gareth Fraser
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