London natives Coldplay are the old pros in the alternative rock genre. Starting out in 1996 with rock influences, the band has continued to progress their music into the ambient sound it is today. Becoming one of the best-selling music acts of all-time, Coldplay continues their journey with their newest album Ghost Stories, capitalizing on their distinct style like never before. Released on May 16th, and taking a different approach to the recording process this time around, the entire band was invited into the studio from the start to contribute in the songwriting opposed to building around main songwriter Chris Martin’s ideas later on. The final result are songs ranging from haunting ballads to uplifting party tracks in a matter of minutes, putting Coldplay at the top of their game in 2014.
As they open with “Always In My Head”, Coldplay prepares listeners for what is in store; although this track is not a shining moment on the record, its psychedelic elements and mellow harmonies sum up the atmospheric tone of Ghost Stories. This mood is ever-present on the album, but never boring. “Magic” enhances its chilling vibe with a pulsing bass rhythm. Coldplay’s songwriting skills come into play on this track as well. Simple words like “I call it magic / When I’m with you” are synched with the tempo to create a sweet and romantic theme. “Ink” has a similar lighthearted tone expressed through short and distinct guitar background features. These soft melodies and hooks leave listeners with a warmed heart and a smile on their face, giving Coldplay an even stronger presence on Ghost Stories.
Interestingly enough, Coldplay changes style on this record halfway through and produce “Midnight”. Paired with a trippy music video, this track is full of subtle electronic effects and auto-tuned vocals to haunt listeners with its slow and powerful sound. The psychedelic melody is not the only mystical part of the track; lyrics like “When I’m rolling with the punches and hope is gone / Leave a light on” are equally moving, putting Coldplay into a different realm of alternative music.
Coldplay massively explore their different talents on this record, which is something that is much needed on any band’s sixth full-length album. Once again, the band switches gears on Ghost Stories and comes out with the most mainstream song on the record, “A Sky Full Of Stars”. This upbeat track is full of danceable beats and exploding energy, once again proving Coldplay’s versatility. Yet again, pace is altered as Coldplay closes with “Fly On”. Saving the best for last on this one, the dominant piano instrumentals dictate the old school sound that Coldplay executes flawlessly. Listeners are overwhelmed with heartfelt lyrics (“So fly on / Ride through / Maybe one day I’ll fly next to you”), a delicate melody, unforgettable hooks, and could not end the album any better.
Ghost Stories prove that Coldplay’s long run in the music industry certainly is not over. They bring their atmospheric sound to a new level by keeping the tone diverse and exciting. Any fan of their recent music will be nothing but impressed when listening to this album. CrypticRock gives Ghost Stories 4.5 out of 5 stars.