BWW Reviews: COLDPLAY's 'Ghost Stories' - Misery Does Not Make For a Good Album
The "breakup album" is difficult to do correctly. How does one bemoan their situation without sounding pathetic? How does the artist convey their misery without depressing listeners? That is the predicament Coldplay faces on their sixth album, Ghost Stories, written as Chris Martin's marriage with Gwyneth Paltrow crumbled. The album, unfortunately, rarely sounds new or exciting. Instead, it's just sad.
Maybe that's what Martin was going for, but misery does not a good album make. If the album sounded the slightest bit original, Coldplay may have escaped this fate. Instead, the music sounds like a mix of Radiohead, Bon Iver and Zedd or Avicii, with a little bit of Parachutes era Coldplay. That is unfortunate, considering what Coldplay could have done with the depressing themes throughout the album.
The sound of Ghost Stories came from an attempt to strip the Coldplay sound down to a more acoustic and less produced album. What resulted may be more acoustic, but it is also significantly more boring. The attempt to tell a narrative through some impressive visuals, created an album on which all but three of the tracks are nearly indistinguishable. Those three tracks are the singles released from the album.
Each of these singles has a unique sound, one that, were Coldplay to take some of the music further, could have resulted in a more diverse album than listeners got. Instead, listeners are "treated" to an album that is almost entirely made up of ballads. Think about a song like "Trouble" from Parachutes, with less in the way of instrumentals, and less vocal range. Sound enticing? If so, you may find Ghost Stories enjoyable. If not, well, that covers 2/3rds of the tracks on the album's 9 song tracklist. Unfortunately, the lack of variety, along with the extremely depressing lyrics, makes it difficult for me to recommend Ghost Stories to anyone.
The album's only saving grace is it's visual component, and when talking about a music album, that simply is not enough. I truly hope Coldplay does not begin working on their seventh album until Chris Martin stops moping.