On a sad note

Music reviews

Ghost Stories is the sixth studio album by British rock band Coldplay. Ghost Stories is a nine-track concept album about separation, heartbreak, helplessness — a chronicle of lost love. It is obviously inspired by lead singer Chris Martin’s troubled relationship with his wife, Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow.

 The album weaves a story of a man going through an unexpected breakup and the various emotional states ending with the acceptance of the situation as catharsis. Despite Martin’s personal agenda, it is an eminently listenable album.

The opener, Always in My Head, has clipped lyrics with Martin’s complaining of insomnia and Guy Berryman’s bass and Will Champion’s drums filling in for the gaps. Magic consolidates the contemplative mood with restrained piano flourishes. In Ink, the lyrics use the metaphor of tattoo (Got a tattoo that said “together through life”/ Carved in your name with my poker knife). Like the lyrics on the other songs of the album, True Love is again a sob story sung with a melancholic voice (Just tell me you love me/If you don’t, then lie, lie to me). 

Midnight has ghoulish vocals with Martin’s distorted vocals and croaking pleas. Another’s Arms is a song of heartbreak. A Sky Full of Stars is the only upbeat joyful song featuring Avicii. It has pulsating keyboard riffs with Martin’s howling chorus (I don’t care, go on and tear me apart/I don’t care if you do). The album ends with O, with an exhausted Martin singing a piano ballad of hope and forgiveness.

Compared to the embellished Coldplay’s last two albums, Viva La Vida and Mylo Xyloto, both enhanced by Brian Eno’s ambient music, Ghost Stories feels minimalistic and stripped down.

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