I’ve been a big Coldplay fan since high school when my friend introduced me to X & Y in 11th grade. The Hardest Part caught my attention, I came to love the rest of the album, and since then it’s been a pretty consistent love affair. I went through the rest of high school with A Rush of Blood to the Head, graduated high school and fell in love to Viva la Vida, and graduated college with Mylo Xyloto (full disclosure, though, that’s my least favorite of their albums). So obviously it was with great anticipation that I bought Ghost Stories, their 6th studio release that came out last Monday. After a weekend trip to Toronto which gave me some time in the car to give it a few thorough listen throughs, I’ve come to a place where I really enjoy the album, despite some of its flaws.
What I love
I’m glad to see Coldplay returning to its more stripped-down roots, with less of Mylo Xyloto’s flash and bang. Ghost Stories is much more reminiscent of A Rush of Blood to the Head or X&Y, albeit with a little more beat in songs like A Sky Full of Stars. Chris Martin’s voice is a delight as ever and I was glad to see it wasn’t overwhelmed by overly flashy instrumentation.
Magic, A Sky Full of Stars, True Love, are all great songs in their own ways, and Ghost Stories (one of the extra tracks from the Target release) has also been growing on me quite a bit, particularly its delightful acoustic opening that’s one of my favorite moments in the album.
What I like
I like how the album fits together well as a cohesive whole while maintaining a variety between songs. Oceans was a pleasant reminder of older songs like We Never Change and O reminds me of Moses, a single that appears on the band’s live album from 2003. All Your Friends, Ink, and O also are musically enjoyable, and with the exception of Ink, have good lyrics, too.
What I don’t like
Where I found the return to simpler music one of Ghost Stories’ highlights, I though the songwriting was a little disappointing, most notably in Another’s Arms. I also wasn’t really captivated by the lyrics in Ink and Always in my Head. Chris Martin’s pronunciation in Ghost Story is a bit mushy, and judging by the lyric transcriptions I’ve seen online, other people are just as in the dark as me about what all the words actually are. Finally, I’m not sure how I feel about the choice to only release the extra songs at Target, but I suppose it worked because I went and bought the album there. Guess I don’t have much cause to complain.
Overall, Ghost Stories is a solid album that gets more rewarding as you listen to it more. Unless you’ve lived under a rock and never listened to Coldplay before (then start with X&Y or A Rush of Blood to the Head) or you’re one of those people that harbor an irrational hatred of them for being popular(?), I’d say you should definitely give it a listen.