Ghost Stories marks Coldplay’s sixth studio album. It is a ‘concept’ album of sorts, spilling the beans for lead singer Chris Martin’s highly publicized breakup with actress, Gwyneth Paltrow. The famously tree hugging Paltrow called the act a ‘conscious uncoupling’. Ahem!
There’s been a million rock albums with songs based upon, around, and in the middle of breakups. I wondered if the Martin/Paltrow new age ‘uncoupling’ would inspire the alternative band to produce something more introspective or would it be a ‘let-it-all-hang-out-affair, like Paltrow’s ridiculous, over-the-top film award acceptance speeches?
It seems that Martin may have left the pity party too soon. Subjectivity in musicians can be a dangerous thing (is anything more boring than a couple madly in love and ready to spread the word?). At least, one of the several producers onboard was paid to be objective, right? Even the wonderful Jon Hopkins can’t save his one collaboration, ‘Midnight’. As such, pain and heartbreak can soon turn to sappy and maudlin. Ghost Stories is mostly the latter.
Martin and his band hit a home run with 2008’s Viva la Vida. Lots of unique songs with good lyrics, interesting orchestrations and melodies, cool harmonies and strong rhythms. Here, the excellent band are subjugated to accompanists with a few signature ostinatos and little interest melodically. On ‘Oceans’ I thought I’d jumped to a different album. Here, you’ll get nothing but Martin in full, non stop falsetto singing dross like:
Wait for your call, love
The call never came
Ready to fall, love
Ready to claim
I’m ready for it all, love
I’m ready for a pain
Meet under sun
Meet me again
In the rain
It’s like a reading a bad, sober, boring, unpublished Hemingway.
Rhythmically and harmonically, things pick up a little in ‘A Sky Full of Stars’. Not near enough to make this album even close to palatable to anyone but a die hard Coldplay fan. But, as I listen to the inane lyrics:
And I don’t care, go on and tear me apart
And I don’t care if you do
‘Cause in a sky, cause in a sky full of stars
I think I see you
I think to myself, doesn’t the poor lad realize he’s been consciously uncoupled?
Of course, we get the ‘flying bird’ metaphor for the final opus. ‘O’ sends the singer on his way with:
They fly on
Maybe one day I come fly with you
I say, move on.
All songs written by Coldplay
Playing time: 42:37
Release date May 19, 2014.
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