Coldplay's 'Ghost Stories' a predictable breakup album

Rating

3 Stars3/5

Darryl Sterdan, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:16 PM ET

At least they didn’t call it Conscious Uncoupling. Though they might as well have.

As we all knew (and perhaps dreaded) immediately upon reading Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow’s separation announcement — heck, it was so obvious that their statement should have started with the words Spoiler Alert — Coldplay’s sixth studio release is a (sigh) breakup album.

And in keeping with that time-honoured and creatively bankrupt musical tradition, the 40-minute disc is basically one long entry in Martin’s pink padlocked diary.

Voicing his sensitive-guy self-analysis and non-threatening falsetto, Martin predictably wanders the stages of grief as he sifts the past, embraces his heartache and ultimately (all together, now) reaffirms his faith in the magical beauty and healing power of true love. Nothing particularly wrong with that. Except that there’s nothing even vaguely inspired, intriguing or innovative about it.

To his credit — and likely to keep this from seeming just a little too much like a Chris Martin solo album — the personable frontman did attempt to address that last point on two fronts. Firstly by incorporating far more synthesizers and beatboxes this time around, making this Coldplay’s most electronic and ethereal album to date. And secondly (though somewhat less successfully), by asking and/or allowing his eternally overshadowed bandmates to contribute musical ideas this time around, which was likely nice for them, though the forgettable results mostly explain why they remain eternally overshadowed.

When it’s all said and done, the concept isn’t hard to understand: Despite its flaws and failings, Ghost Stories was undoubtedly an album Chris Martin had to make. Perhaps it was the only album he could have made.

But that doesn’t necessarily make it an album you have to hear.


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