Although the media coverage was relatively subdued, Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow’s troubled relationship is the glaringly obvious origin of Coldplay’s new album, Ghost Stories. The album boasts a thematic persistence of heartbreak throughout its nine tracks, as is evident through the haunting lyrics, “Just got a tattoo and the pain’s alright/just wanted a way to keep you inside” and “And I just got broken/broken in two/still I call it magic/when I’m next to you”. Through the album’s dark, minimalistic instrumentals and Martin’s soft falsetto murmuring, listeners can tell that Ghost Stories is his attempt at reconciliation—not with his ex-wife—but with himself.
Ghost Stories is more direct with its content compared to the band’s previous works. It doesn’t contain their trademark songs that feature a few moments of deep reflection littered amidst lyrical nonsense. They instead turn to direct, and sometimes frustratingly repetitive, messages of love and loss. “True Love” embodies the best of the album’s defining characteristics, with harsh lyrics like “Tell me you love me/if you don’t then lie/lie to me” sung over weighty rhythms and somber strings.
The production of Ghost Stories is also different from that of Coldplay’s previous albums. In an interview with BBC 1, Martin stated that he looked to the rest of the band for the construction of new songs rather than building on his own ideas, as they have done in the past. “Magic”, the first single released from Ghost Stories, was formulated from a bass riff conceived by bassist Guy Berryman, said Martin later in the interview. This production transition is apparent, as the Ghost Stories features much less excess than was typical of Coldplay’s recent works. However, due to this shift, they struggle to create a memorable album, and instead leave room for both the growth and exhibition of the musical talents that the rest of Coldplay has.
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