Ghost Stories by Coldplay
Coldplay’s known for its eclectic, lyrically tender music, yielding every now and then a pop jewel that joins the canon of millennial classics. Chances are you’ve heard “Yellow” from their album Parachutes, or A Rush of Blood to the Head’s “The Scientist” and “Clocks.” Their music is dreamy, but with an edge, their band name as faceless as their music. The pairing of words “cold” and “play” suggests something ironic and lonely at work. And in their 2014 album, Ghost Stories, they take you into the realm of the night.
But it’s not quite darkness and terror. Like the shade of deep, dark, yearning blue that fills most of the album cover, the album feels like it takes place on an ocean at night, or under a particularly inky sky. And it’s genuine, handwritten, organic, real. It’s like true love, in its most pure, undiluted form, swooning, gentle, true. And the wings on the cover, made of stenciled clockwork, represent all kinds of love. The love that enables us to soar, like wings; or the love that only reminds us of unacted potential, since the wings on the cover are folded, retired from flight. It all begins with the dreamy, swaying “Always in My Head,” like a slow dance that takes place in a deeper state of consciousness.
There’s all sorts of textures to the album, like “Oceans,” which tilts and knocks like actual waves. Towards the end, it fades out like a lost searchlight at sea. Or “Ink,” which has all the satisfying woodsy snaps and pats of paper preparing to be addressed. And the words, sung by Chris Martin, are simple and gentle, often repeating in dove-like circles, soaring. The album covers every confusing feeling of love in a surprisingly minimalist fashion. “Midnight” is quietly electric, silver-rimmed, the embodiment of inverted colors. No matter what time of day you actually listen to it, you’ll feel like you’re creeping out on a hallowed night. And ironically, the song titled “True Love” is about the absence of the real thing. Martin is impossibly sad in the reverberating line, So tell me you love me, if you don’t then lie, oh, lie to me. “A Sky Full of Stars” is the pop music stud of the ensemble, flashing and moving fast across what feels like a sky full of stars caught winking and glittering signals. And the album finally takes those cover wings to fly in “O,” a piano ballad. With the simple phrase flock of birds, Coldplay urges with satisfied, bittersweet resignation for us to Fly on. In a way, yes. In a way, no–we’ll never forget these ghost stories.