Heralded as one of the UK’s most successful exports, you would be right to think that the members of Coldplay might want an extensive break between albums. Record and single releases, appearances in every country, sell-out world tours – they don’t seem to stop. However, with only three years separating Mylo Xyloto (2011) and latest release Ghost Stories, the foursome are about to embark on yet another globe-trotting adventure, with their sixth studio album not only a commemoration to the past but a nod to the future of the band.
Continuing where Mylo Xyloto left off, Ghost Stories carries a solid electronic vibe throughout. Kicking off with the melodic Always In My Head, the band utilize a mix of front-man Chris Martin’s distinctive vocals with choral recordings, giving the song a depth Coldplay have become renowned for. This is picked up and continued throughout the album, with or without the choir mirroring every note. Popular single Magic follows, which gave listeners a taste of the tone of the album, with it one of the livelier songs from the track listing. Ink, True Love and Midnight follow, all showcasing the strength and variation of Martin’s vocals and the band’s ability to write a heart-rending lyric (I see your stars begin to shine, I see your colours and I’m dying of thirst/Tell me you love me, if you don’t then lie to me).
Another’s Arms sees the the choir return, this time backing Martin’s lamenting lyrics of a man’s desperation to reconcile with his lover, the typical guitar-and-drums duo replaced by an eerie synthetic beat. However, Oceans use of a simple acoustic guitar may remind long-time Coldplay fans of the band’s earlier work, particularly Sparks from debut album Parachutes. This is again continued through to closing track O, a piano backing Chris’ lyrics of a man coming to terms with the end of his relationship, noting that love is like a flock of birds – Fly on, ride through, maybe one day I’ll fly next to you. As a fan of the group’s previous album, penultimate song A Sky Full Of Stars is the highlight of Ghost Stories, an exciting, upbeat, electronic dance track harking back to the style and tempo of Paradise and Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall, marking it as a definite summer anthem.
Although lacking the grandiose, colourful nature of Mylo Xyloto, Ghost Stories brings together elements from Parachutes, A Rush of Blood To The Head (2002) and even Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends (2008), combining beautiful yet melancholy lyrics with a punchy, catchy techno undercurrent. Described as a concept album telling the story of one man’s sudden break-up, the record is certainly a monument in the band’s history, but also a marker for an important moment in Martin’s life – his personal soundtrack to heartbreak.
Ghost Stories is out now.
Review by Jazmine Bradley