As angelic voices seem to brush their ghostlike, wispy hands across your palm and lift you up to heaven, Coldplay’s lead singer, Chris Martin’s deep, tired voice reminds you of the pain that exists below. Whether you are in a sweet smelling cafe on a cold rainy day or sitting in the shade of an oak tree in the park, you can feel his sorrow, the beautiful music of his broken heart.
Ghost Stories is Coldplay’s newest album, released on May 16th, 2014. Chris Martin (the lead singer and pianist), Guy Berryman (the acoustic guitarist), Johnny Buckland (the lead guitarist), and Will Champion (a pianist) started their band in 1996 and have continued to be very successful. However, Ghost Stories is very different from most of Coldplay’s other albums. Unlike their past ones, which make you want to get up and dance to their funky beats, Ghost Stories is very saddening and slow.
This is due to the fact that Chris Martin and his wife, Gwyneth Paltrow, recently split up. Though many of the songs in Ghost Stories share Martin’s sadness and how heartbroken he was, many of the songs’ messages are to accept incidents that occur in your life which aren’t very positive. However, you should not let them make you depressed or overwhelmed. In an interview with NME, a website that publishes music news, reviews, galleries, tickets, and blogs, Martin explains, “The idea of Ghost Stories for me was, how to let the things that have happened to you in the past affect your present and your future [but not letting the incidents] drag you down.” Ghost Stories expresses sadness and acceptance in a magnificent way.
Though the music itself is melancholy, Coldplay used some rhythms in the background to keep the album in the alternative genre. In all of the songs, there are various electronic beats that will stick in your head. In “Magic,” there is an electronic drum beat that makes the song seem to have a sliver of the pop genre slid into it, giving the urge to clap or nod your head along with the drumming. Since there are many electronic instruments used, some make the music more upbeat and some make it sorrowful or even eerie. For example, the burst of energetic, electronic music in “Ink” makes it sound more positive and catchy. This song also demonstrates the acceptance of the separation between Martin and his wife. Some lyrics that reveal this are, “All I know/ is that I’m lost/ wherever you go. / All I know/ is that I love you so/ so much that it hurts.” Martin sings these lines with confidence, displaying that he has acknowledged the incident that had occurred. However, the slower music in the background of “Oceans” gives it a peaceful feeling, and like the song title, relaxing next to the soft ripple of a calm, ocean wave.
Another part of Ghost Stories that makes it such an amazing album is the voices in each song and how they sound. For example, in “Midnight,” the voices seem to echo or be harmonized with another singer. In “Another’s Arms,” there is an angelic voice repeating a pattern of notes that give you the chills as a cold, winter breeze would as it blows down your back. The voices in each song also portray different feelings. Chris Martin’s deep, tired tone in “Always in My Head” makes the song have a sad feeling. However, the louder, confident sound of his voice in “A Sky Full of Stars” makes the song have a more positive feeling. Also, the quiet, thoughtful tone and lyrics in “O” give the song a wishful quality to be like the birds that are sung about. Some splendid lyrics that show this quality are, “And I always/ look up to the sky/ pray before the dawn/ ‘cause they fly always/ sometimes they arrive/ sometimes they are gone/ they fly on.”
Ghost Stories is an album with heartbreaking but exquisite lyrics, amazing playing of instruments, and talented voices. It also tells a complex story of the divorce between Chris Martin and his wife and is very relatable for anyone experiencing heartache, a bad day, or anyone who just wants to listen to some exceptional music. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself pressing “replay” while lying down under your “sky full of stars”.
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