Chris Martin is going through some serious stuff. Clearly and very obviously inspired by the Coldplay singer’s recent divorce from actress Gwyneth Paltrow, Coldplay‘s sixth album Ghost Stories is actually a sonic therapy session during which Martin seems to experience pretty much all five stages of grieving – especially the last two, depression and acceptance.
If you can handle the super-soppy (and sometimes quite cheesy) lyrics as Martin battles his way through this conscious uncoupling from Goop, you realise that the music itself is actually no lesser for it. Sure he’s moping, moaning and generally having a cry about a failed marriage, but for all the flack Coldplay often get regarding credibility, Martin sounds genuinely tormented, his pain coming across as very real and Ghost Stories overall serving as proof (yet again) that the best songwriting always comes courtesy some hardcore heartbreak.
Packed with elegant piano melodies, beautiful string arrangements and falsetto vocals, Ghost Stories is vintage, trademark Coldplay in sound, especially on second single Magic – a pulsating, slow-progressing, hypnotic ballad that is easily the catchiest song on the entire album. As though split into two sonic chapters, and beginning halfway through the album with first single Midnight – a haunting, echoing, ambient number produced by Jon Hopkins – Ghost Stories seems to take a turn for the more electronic from this point onwards, particularly towards the end of the album on A Sky Full Of Stars – an Avicii-produced, full-blown EDM track.
Fading out the same way it opened – with an angelic-sounding female choir – Ghost Stories’ last track, O, sums up nicely all of the anguish of the entire album, using a flock of migrating birds as a metaphor for releasing Martin’s heartbreak and finally finding some acceptance (or is that a spark of hope?): “So fly on, ride through, maybe one day I’ll fly next to you,” he sings. It’s no A Rush Of Blood To The Head. Rather, Ghost Stories is overall a confessional and, as such, you definitely won’t find many anthems a la Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall or Viva La Vida. But you do get a short and sweet nine-track exorcism of demons and one crushed dude who knows how to pen some beautiful, infectious ballads.