Album artwork of the week: Coldplay's 'Ghost Stories'
Every week, we pick our favourite album artwork from recent releases. This week it's Ghost Stories by Coldplay.
The music business may be mainly about downloads these days, but a decent album cover design remains vital to the success of a new release, and a recent revival in vinyl has guaranteed a future for the discipline. Every week we'll be picking our favourite new album artwork, and today we take a look at 'Ghost Stories' from Coldplay .
The album artwork was designed by award-winning artist Mila Furstova , who has shown in 20 solo shows. Her work has become part of important private and public collections, including that of Queen Elizabeth II and the V&A Museum in London, so it only seems natural that Coldplay wanted her involved in their latest album.
Keeping with the 'magic' theme of the album, playing cards and potions can be seen inside the dove. The intricate illustrations are absolutely breathtaking when seen up close, showcasing Furstova's excellent skills has an album artist.
Like this? See the best album covers of the year so far.
What do you think about this week's pick? Let us know in the comments box below!
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Sammy Maine was a founding member of the Creative Bloq team way back in the early 2010s, working as a Commissioning Editor. Her interests cover graphic design in music and film, illustration and animation. Since departing, Sammy has written for The Guardian, VICE, The Independent & Metro, and currently co-edits the quarterly music journal Gold Flake Paint.
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Coldplay’s Haunted ‘Ghost Stories’ Album: Track-By-Track Review
What songs on Coldplay's latest full-length are the highlights? Check out our track-by-track review of "Ghost Stories."
By Jason Lipshutz
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Coldplay’s sixth studio album will forever be tied to frontman Chris Martin’s out-of-the-blue announcement that he and wife Gwyneth Paltrow were separating , nearly two months before the full-length’s release. The timing of the breakup hovers over “Ghost Stories,” a short album full of straightforward meditations on heartbreak and helplessness. Instead of hinting at the split and letting listeners spit out theories about the real-life drama that inspired the album, Martin has presented his gaping wound for the world to see, in rather spectacular fashion.
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Coldplay’s last album, 2011’s “Mylo Xyloto,” was a shout-along opus that found the four-piece finally embracing the ridiculousness that comes with being the World’s Biggest Rock Band; there were canyon-sized synths, rock-opera plot lines and a duet with Rihanna. By contrast, “Ghost Stories” is devoid of big moments, save for the Avicii collaboration “A Sky Full Of Stars,” which showcases the producer’s pulsating keyboard riffs and pummeling beat drops. But even that flare-up is punctuated by Martin’s raspy howl in the chorus, “I don’t care, go on and tear me apart/I don’t care if you do.”
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Since arriving 14 years ago with Coldplay’s breakout single “Yellow,” Martin has had an extravagant voice in pop music, aiming at grandeur more often than mining his songs’ intimate moments. On “Ghost Stories,” the inverse is true, and it’s wholly refreshing to hear Martin try to confide a sentiment instead of bellow it. “Always In My Head” uses quick, cutting lines to convey sleepless defeat, while the central metaphor of “Ink” — love is a tattoo, and it hurts more to remove a name than to inscribe it — proves to be affecting. As Martin’s voice cracks and careens forward, Guy Berryman’s bass chords tether the album to the ground, and Will Champion’s drums often crackle before dropping away completely.
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Broken pleas like “Just tell me you love me/If you don’t, then lie, lie to me,” from the song “True Love,” can make “Ghost Stories” a difficult listen at times, thanks to the prior knowledge of Martin’s failed marriage. But in many ways, Coldplay’s sharp left turn is also its most listenable album in years, an evocative concoction of sullen phrases, sparse arrangements and powerful themes. “Ghost Stories” is the sound of Coldplay rejecting its inner Coldplay-ness, at least for one album. Martin and the rest of the band will no doubt spring back to life on future releases, but for once, reveling in the darkness sounds like a great idea.
What songs on Coldplay’s latest full-length are the highlights? Check out our track-by-track review of “Ghost Stories.”
1. Always In My Head – “Ghost Stories” begins with what sounds like literal ghost stories, as Martin admits to sleepless nights while a faceless voice floats behind him. As guitar curly-q’s float upward, the singer sounds more broken than ever, as if every insecurity hurts to say aloud in fear that it will become true.
“Always In My Head” hinted at the downbeat vibe of “Ghost Stories,” but “Magic,” Coldplay’s most unassuming lead single to date also definitively establishes that contemplative mood. The gloomy refrain and pleas over restrained piano flourishes finally give way to the chiming riffs of the bridge, which soon dial back down to the chilliness of the intro.
3. Ink – The pops of percussion are married with pensive guitar strokes as Martin delivers the first line, “Got a tattoo that said ‘Together Through Life’/Carved in your name with my pocket knife.” When the music swells up, it does so politely, and Martin finally lets his cry escape on the second verse.
4. True Love – There’s another mention of “the fire below” as Martin settles in over heavy rhythms, dancing synths and wallowing strings to deliver perhaps the saddest song on the album. Repetition is key on “Ghost Stories,” as Martin echoes his phrases — “Tell me you love me, if you don’t then lie” — to create a sense of begging.
The first song released from “Ghost Stories,” “Midnight” finds Martin actually sounding like a ghost, his distorted vocals croaking requests like “leave a light, a light on.” It’s not “Kid A” and it’s a little too long, but stylistically, “Midnight” makes sense in the middle of the album, and harkens back to shuddering early singles like “Trouble.”
6. Another’s Arms – Before Martin’s normal voice rejoins the album, a female specter croons in and out of focus; it’s painful to hear Martin sing about late night TV watching, grasping at memories of shared company. “Another’s Arms” is a songwriting gem, although the arrangement is a bit flat, with not much body to the guitar and whooshing keys added to match the stuttering drums.
7. Oceans – A blinking signal reminiscent of a sonar is one of the neat production details on “Oceans,” which also smartly echoes the word “trying” when Martin sings, “Behind the walls, love/I’m trying to change.” The singer sounds like Nick Drake on the track, his eyes fixed on the ground before the music needlessly noodles around for nearly two minutes after the proper song concludes.
8. A Sky Full Of Stars
The one instance of “Mylo Xyloto”-era Coldplay seeping in, “A Sky Full of Stars” is a joyous dance cut crafted by Avicii, and a honeycomb of energy that the album needs. Martin still sounds forlorn, of course; he sings, “Cause in a sky full of stars/I think I saw you,” with “think” being the crucial word.
9. O – Before the hidden track of guitar and ghostly voices (think Bjork’s “Vespertine”), this beautifully produced piano ballad poignantly offers a sense of hope and forgiveness. Similar to “X&Y” closer “Til Kingdom Come,” “O” is stripped of pretense, and Martin sounds utterly exhausted by the final line.
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By Larry Fitzmaurice
Atlantic / Parlophone
May 20, 2014
"If you could see it, then you'd understand." That glistening anti-koan punctuates the chorus of Coldplay's skyscraping 2005 single "Speed of Sound", and the lyric's profound meaninglessness has doubled as a mission statement for the mega-band's career thus far. They've established a reputation as mainstream rock's koi pond architects, designing music that's deceptively shallow but, if caught at the right moment, shimmeringly beautiful, to the point that you could focus on it for hours.
Impossibly indulgent on a sonic level while retaining the intellectual depth of a cell phone commercial, Coldplay's catalog is largely experiential—a reflecting pool for the hopes, dreams, and heartaches that listeners wish to apply to the music. This pliability has meant that Coldplay can come off as impersonal, a gaseous giant of anonymity in rock music's solar system; nearly 10 years ago, the stultifyingly dense third album X&Y threatened to swallow the band completely, as Coldplay refined the post-post-punk affectations of 2002's A Rush of Blood to the Head until they were left with an immobile monolith.
On the verge of overreaching, Coldplay doubled down with 2008's Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends , a world-beating document of giddy experimentation and costume-rock bathos that stands as their most thrilling, impressionistic work. Mylo Xyloto followed three years later, which took its predecessor's widescreen template and enlarged it to IMAX-size, indulging in rave-y piano stabs and night-flight flourishes with the color-filled exuberance of a child that can't stop eating crayons.
Mylo Xyloto was further proof that Coldplay are at their best when they embrace their corniest impulses; their sixth album, Ghost Stories , finds them taking a sharp left turn. Preceded by the non-single "Midnight", a watery electro-folk Bon Iver facsimile accompanied with a video reminiscent of an iTunes visualizer , nearly everything about the arrival of Ghost Stories has seemed small: the nine-song tracklist, the spartan, deep-blue angel's-wings cover, the disappointing lack of costumes . The absence of grandiosity signaled to eager fans and sneering bystanders alike that, this time around, something might be a little off.
That something can be traced to Martin's marriage to actress and $600-hand-cream guru Gwyneth Paltrow, which quietly imploded in March of this year. More a separation than an outright divorce, recent court documents revealed that the couple are still living together , and in a 2008 SPIN profile , the only subject that the otherwise affable Martin bristled against discussing was his personal life with Paltrow. As long as the world's known him, Chris Martin has also proved impossible to truly know , so whether his recent familial troubles would seep into his band's latest was anyone's guess.
And yet, Ghost Stories is unmistakably Coldplay's "breakup album," a subdued work that finds Martin and his band crisply moping through mid-tempo soundscapes and fuzzy electronic touches that have the visceral impact of a down comforter tumbling down a flight of stairs. Featuring production from longtime collaborators Daniel Green and Rik Simpson, along with behind-the-boards pro Paul Epworth, drone-techno auteur Jon Hopkins, and Kanye West collaborator Mike Dean, the record is serene and weightless to a fault. Coldplay abandon the musical tourism and extroverted strides of their last few albums and find themselves adrift.
The closest the record comes to a bona fide anthem is the moderately enjoyable "A Sky Full of Stars", a rocket-fueled single on the level of "Clocks" and "Speed of Sound" tainted by Swedish dance producer AVICII's cheap-sounding drum presets and boilerplate synth motifs. "I don't care/ If you tear me apart," Martin wails at the peak of the song's endless chorus, a passionate exclamation that doubles one of the most nakedly personal admissions he's made on record.
Ghost Stories certainly sounds like the product of someone working out their private pain in public; unfortunately, the results are less Blood on the Tracks and more "Can I Borrow a Feeling?" . Coldplay's catalog has plenty of examples where Martin's words have failed him , but his diaristic reflections on Ghost Stories are abnormally painful. "Tell me you love me/ If you don't, then lie," he coos on the Spandau Ballet-gone-Disney ballad "True Love"; during the plodding "Another's Arms", he ruminates on lost domestic bliss watching TV with a loved one, "Your body on my body." If the expression of carnal closeness-via-TiVo makes you cringe, imagine how he feels.
"Ink" is the album's most indefensible moment, musically and lyrically, and the song handily snatches the title of Worst Coldplay Song from X&Y 's impossibly leaden, fuckin'-magnets stinker "What If". "Got a tattoo/ And the pain's alright," Martin cries while running through a series of love-as-permanence metaphors, over rippling guitar and burbling atmospherics ripped from Phil Collins' Tarzan soundtrack . The last time Coldplay indulged in "rainforest rock," it was Viva La Vida 's transcendent, gorgeous "Strawberry Swing", which featured Martin exclaiming beatifically, "It's such a perfect day"; on "Ink", he moves from vine to vine until swinging in solitude at the track's end, exclaiming with a sigh, "All I know is that I love you so/ So much that it hurts."
Fittingly, "Ink" is one of the few tracks on Ghost Stories that leaves a mark, and that's partially due to Martin's lovely-as-ever vocals; when not chronicling his own pain, he occasionally breaks into appealing birdsong, a wordless pitter-patter that marks the chorus of the record's pleasant-enough lead single, "Magic". Otherwise, Ghost Stories is a collection of unmemorable songs from a band that's made enough memories to last a lifetime. Everything sounds pristine—this is a Coldplay album, and instrumentally the band is as exacting as ever—but by the dreary piano-led closer "O", you're left with a series of songs that are fragile, plain, and forgettable.
Conventional wisdom says X&Y is Coldplay's worst album, but amidst that record's shiftless bloat, there were real-deal highlights that hit with blunt impact and have since stood the test of time . Ghost Stories contains no such moments, and thus threatens to rob X&Y of its dubious title. Its intimate nature shares the most kinship with Coldplay's first album, 2000's peerless Parachutes . Twelve years later, that album sounds like the work of a different band, and that's because it is; Coldplay have become one of the biggest acts in the world since their comparatively modest debut, and as a result Ghost Stories ' attempts to return to close-mic'd intimacy come across as out-of-touch as Lucille Bluth asking how much a banana costs .
The callback to Parachutes ' hushed whispers also means that Ghost Stories is the first time Coldplay has sounded explicitly self-referential. They're a band that's withstood enough comparisons to U2 over the years, and the warmed-over leftovers that have marked Bono and Co.'s last decade as a creative entity are enough to suggest that, if Coldplay continue to head down the path of addressing their own legacy, their best moments are truly behind them.
Ghost Stories : The Most Forgettable Coldplay Album Ever
The band’s sixth album is beautiful, soothing, and relentlessly uninspiring.
People don't listen to a Coldplay song, Marshall McLuhan would have said , they slip into it like a warm bath. Dulcet melodies spill pleasingly into the vat like aromatic oils. The musical palette is a soapy broth. The words are pointless bubbles. Sometimes, soft propulsion technology is employed to stir things up. Sometimes, everything just sort of … sits there.
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Such aqueous songwriting isn’t new. Artists like Kenny Loggins and Toto belonged to a 1970s genre called “yacht rock” for a reason—it blended easily with waves lapping a hull. "Bath rock," its even calmer descendant coming of age in the late 1990s, is better suited to people, like myself, who prefer their sonic waters even less choppy. After all, I've written thousands of words about Coldplay for this site. I love this band, not for its efforts to break rules, but for its underrated ability to play within the rules of mainstream pop to compose relentlessly memorable music. There’s no rule that saying songs have to be complicated or thrilling.
But Ghost Stories , Coldplay's latest album, is really, really neither complicated nor thrilling. It transcends the category of “bath rock" mostly by leaving behind the second syllable. The album is a state-of-the-art hydrotherapy tank—a lavish, electric-powered, whirling vat of feelings. The guitars crouch behind the synths. The mood clings desperately to melancholy wistfulness throughout. The best-written songs—the looping intro, “Always in My Head,” the acoustic throwback “Oceans,” the piano-ballad finale “O”—scarcely have what a listener might recognize as a chorus.
This marks a minor departure for the band whose last album, Mylo Xyloto , was a pop-rock-opera that came dangerously close to fun. But every Coldplay album is a minor departure these days. Ever since X&Y , which even Coldplay’s die-hards will admit was a sugary turd, the band has lurched from stripped-down rock ( Viva La Vida , a toe-tapping triumph of mid-tempo melodies), to twinkling pop on Mylo Xyloto , to this, an electronica meditation on the end of a relationship. You all know which one. Chris Martin’s marriage to Gwyneth Paltrow was evidently suffering as he wrote and recorded the album—“I think of you, I haven’t slept” is the first line and "Maybe one day I'll fly next to you, so fly on” is the last. The couple announced their break-up while the first single—the super-chill “Magic,” which might be my least favorite Coldplay single ever—wound its way through the charts.
But Coldplay's break-up with its uplifting choruses is the most conscious uncoupling on display here. This is a band that knows how to write sad music. Parachutes , its debut album, is one of the most popular downbeat albums in the last few decades, because the songs knew when to come out of the shadows. The choruses of “Yellow,” “Shiver,” and “Everything’s Not Lost” shined a little light into Martin’s mopey bunker, which made the quieter moments of “Sparks” and “Trouble” feel intimately dark rather than merely lugubrious.
On Ghost Stories , however, the band is trying too hard to prove it can get its point across without the all-conquering verse-bridge-chorus formula that made them famous. “Midnight” dabbles in Bon Iveresque auto-tuning, and is fine. “Ink” and "Another’s Arms” match lonely lyrics with mid-tempo pep, and are also fine. “O,” the finale, is two-thirds of a great Coldplay song, but where we’ve been taught to expect a rousing coda, we get an airy outro of angelic synths. There’s nothing wrong with restrained introspection, but coming from Coldplay, it’s a bit like paying to see a famous motivational speaker who’s decided to treat his audience to two hours of meditative chimes—kind of commendable, in the abstract, but rather boring to actually experience .
The penultimate track on the album, the more-or-less humiliating Avicii-produced “Sky Full of Stars,” is perhaps the worst song on the album, a toe-curlingly embarrassing EDM track that deserves no airplay and will probably dominate Top 40 radio for the next month. It’s a simple act of triumphalist pandering, and when I first heard it, I’ll admit my first thought was: “Finally." The rest of the album would have benefitted greatly from a more even redistribution of such indulgence. Without accessibly heartening melodies that plead for our approval, what's the point of Coldplay, in the first place?
By Caryn Ganz
Since we met Chris Martin 14 years ago, he’s been a trusted emotional shepherd, nudging us to hear the clanging bells, marvel at the stars, glow in the dark, obey our hearts. But what happens when he doesn’t have someone to write all those lush ballads for?
Coldplay ‘s sixth album is called Ghost Stories , and there’s a blond phantom obviously haunting its nine tracks. The record comes just two months after Martin and his wife of a decade, Gwyneth Paltrow, announced their “conscious uncoupling” – outwardly a breakup with the best intentions, but a split all the same. For the first time in ages, Martin isn’t trying to “Fix You.” Now he needs to repair himself.
The result is a Coldplay LP unlike anything the band has done before. Instead of broad, arms-outstretched choruses and irresistible, foot-stomping anthems, there are whimpers and wails that recall the anguished warbling of Kanye West ‘s 808s & Heartbreak or Bon Iver’s Bon Iver . “You’re always in my head,” Martin croons on the hushed opener, prodded on by guitarist Jonny Buckland’s chiming riff; he keeps that vow for 43 raw minutes. On the mournful “Oceans,” Martin’s falsetto flings itself against an acoustic guitar and holds on for dear life. By the time he reaches the closer, “O,” Martin is a ghost, too, a plume of smoke chasing a flock of birds into the sky.
Co-producer Paul Epworth, who famously helped Adele roll to a Grammys sweep in 2012, does a laudable job helping Coldplay peel back the layers of 2011’s Brian Eno -led Mylo Xyloto , landing on a more minimalist palette. On several songs, drummer Will Champion experiments with the gentle thump of synth percussion. Many multitracked Martins mournfully harmonize on “Midnight,” the album’s sprawling linchpin, as sputtering synths mimic the disorientation he sings about. Live, the band has been performing the tune with a pair of dueling laser harps, as bassist Guy Berryman and Martin guide the track’s EDM-y spaz-out from opposite ends of the stage.
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Ghost Stories is set somewhere between depression and acceptance: While Martin sprints all the way out to the precipice, Coldplay – still the same four guys who brought you “Yellow” in 2000 and share equal credit on every track – don’t slip over the edge. The throbby single “Magic” and brighter “Ink” plumb the prospects of eternal love after the flame of romance has been extinguished. The album’s most ecstatic track, the Avicii-assisted “A Sky Full of Stars” – a full-on detour into the Swedish DJ’s patented strum-tronica – gives Martin a chance to (awkwardly) dance himself clean.
The truth of “True Love” is too painful to bear, so the singer instructs his partner, “Just tell me you love me/If you don’t, then lie/Oh, lie to me.” At a recent New York gig, the 37-year-old singer proclaimed the especially tortured song the band’s favorite track it has ever written. Its detuned, squalling guitar solo is the album’s most jarring but ultimately most satisfying sonic moment. It’s probably not the song Martin wanted to write, but it’s the one he needs right now.
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The band’s gift for soaring melodies is evident throughout Ghost Stories—particularly on the magnetic first single, “Magic.” Chris Martin’s heart-rending falsetto floats along in a haze of synth-washed ambience (as on the entrancing Kid A–influenced “Midnight”) or sparely accompanied by acoustic instruments (“Oceans,” “O”). Ghost Stories demonstrates the expressive power of understatement.
May 19, 2014 9 Songs, 42 minutes ℗ 2014 Parlophone Records Limited, a Warner Music Group Company.
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For the song "Ghost Story" click here. For the era "Ghost Stories Era" click here. For the tour "Ghost Stories Tour" click here.
Ghost Stories is the sixth studio album by Coldplay . Co-produced by the band with Paul Epworth along with returning Mylo Xyloto producers Daniel Green and Rik Simpson, it was released by Parlophone on 16 May 2014. The album was released by Atlantic Records in North America on 19 May 2014. It is the first album by the band in North America under Atlantic, after Coldplay were transferred from Capitol Records in 2013, following the purchase of EMI and its assets by the Universal Music Group in 2012.
The album was recorded by the band throughout 2013 and 2014 at the band's purpose-built home studios in London, England, and in Los Angeles. It features guest producers Avicii , Timbaland and Madeon, and the band's frequent collaborator Jon Hopkins. It was heavily promoted by the band and Parlophone in the lead-up to its release, with an accompanying prime time TV special, a visual album, and a special six-date promotional tour of the album, as well as various appearances on television and radio. Although the album had the band experimenting with electronic music, like on Mylo Xyloto , that album was more upbeat. This album was quiter with a more ambient sound. This was due to the personal turmoil Chris Martin experienced from seperating from his wife, Gwyneth Paltrow.
The album was further promoted by three singles: " Magic ", the lead single, released in March; " A Sky Full of Stars ", released in May; and " True Love ", released in August. It was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album at the 57th Grammy Awards.
- 1 Background
- 2 Recording
- 4 Packaging
- 5.1 Lyrics Hunt
- 5.2 TV Special
- 5.3 Streaming
- 5.4 Target Deluxe Editon
- 6.1 Other non-singles
- 7 Critical reception
- 8 Chart performance
- 9.1 Standard edition
- 10.1 Typeface
- 10.2 Unboxing
- 10.3 Photo Gallery
- 11.1 Coldplay
- 11.2 Additional musicians
- 11.3 Artistic personnel
- 11.4 Additional personnel
- 12.1 Weekly charts
- 12.2 Year-end charts
- 12.3 Certifications
- 13 Release history
Background [ ]
On 24 October 2011, Coldplay released their fifth studio album, Mylo Xyloto . Originally conceived by the band as “ a stripped-down, more acoustic collection ”,  it became one of Coldplay's most experimental and pop-oriented records, being described as “luxuriously colourful”  where “the choruses are bigger, the textures grander [and] the optimism more optimistic.”  Produced by Markus Dravs, Brian Eno , Rik Simpson, and Daniel Green, the album peaked at number one on 18 national album charts and was certified Platinum in 16 different countries. Mylo Xyloto had also sold 8 million copies within the first year of release. Coldplay's 2011 single " Paradise " became the band's second UK number-one single after 2008's " Viva la Vida ". Coldplay's subsequent world tour in promotion of Mylo Xyloto visited North America, Europe, Australasia, and Africa, raising $99.7 million in revenue.
In an interview with Australian radio station 2DayFM on 20 November 2012 — in anticipation of the release of the band's third live album Live 2012 —, Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland revealed that they already had a title ready for the next record, with Chris stating that it would be a “much easier to pronounce” title, referring to the general audience's difficulty pronouncing Mylo Xyloto .  The following night, during a Coldplay concert in Brisbane, Australia, Chris announced that would be “the last big show for three years or so.”   On 19 February 2013, The Oracle gave an indication of what was the band's current status, revealing, “[Coldplay] are busy behind the scenes. They're not in the full steam ahead mode just yet, but plans are being made and steps are being taken.” 
Backstage at the 2013 Brit Awards held on 20 February 2013, Will Champion and Jonny spoke to Jo Whiley of BBC Radio 2; saying in response to a question about a new Coldplay record, Jonny hinted that there was “a theoretical album” in the works, with Will adding that him and Jonny were occasionally going into the studio to “noodle for an hour”. In a previous interview at the Brits, Will commented that these latest jam sessions with Jonny were not as productive as expected, remarking: “It's absolutely dreadful. Garbage, abstract, avant-garde nonsense. So you shall never hear of it, even if we released it you'd never hear it.”  Going into the creative process for their sixth studio album, the band expressed interest in returning to the original idea of a more acoustic-oriented and intimate album, with less of the production and sound that made Mylo Xyloto ; when Whiley suggested that, Will replied: “Yeah, that might be nice, actually. There's only so far you can go without becoming pompous and a bit overblown, so we'll tread that line very carefully. Reset. Recalibrate.”  
Recording [ ]
The creative process and recording sessions for the band's sixth studio album took place between 2013 and early 2014, at their purpose-built studios The Bakery and The Beehive in North London, England, then in Los Angeles for the final process. The creation of the album actually started at Guy's house in London in early 2013 where he had settled a little studio where everyone gathered to jam and try some new music during a break after the band's big tour for Mylo Xyloto . The band took a different approach for their sixth studio album in contrast to their previous studio albums. Chris invited the band to contribute original songwriting material for the album, as opposed to building songs off Martin's ideas as they had done during previous recording sessions. For example, " Magic " was built off a bass riff originally conceived by bassist Guy Berryman in the studio.
“ For a long, long time I've been begging the band, "Please could someone else start a song"! I've been given that gift from the universe, or from God or whatever you want to believe in that ideas for songs get sent through wherever they get sent from, and then I take them to the rest of the band and then we layer it up and that's how we do it. I was so grateful. It made me so happy and that was kind of a sample of the album as a whole, "We'll help each other out here". There were lots of songs but that was the first point where I thought, "Everyone is invested in this, everyone knows what we're trying to do; go a bit more personal". ” — Chris
Concept [ ]
Ghost Stories is a spiritually driven album that revolves around two major themes mentioned by lead singer Chris Martin. The album explores the idea of past actions, and the effects they can have on your future and one's capacity for unconditional Love.
Packaging [ ]
The album artwork for Ghost Stories was etched by British-based Czech etching artist Mila Fürstová. The medieval art-driven artwork, measuring 100 by 100 cm, features a pair of angel wings imposed onto a painting of an ocean under a sky at night. The angel wings themselves feature cryptic imagery of medieval-style drawings of fairly contemporary objects and concepts. The images include a couple in love, a man facing a mirror, a flight of white doves, a circular maze, a girl by candlelight, a window looking out onto an incoming tornado and a garden plant with a ladder, amongst other imagery depicted in the artwork.
An example of Mila Fürstová's work, which are inspired by mythology, a central theme also depicted in the artwork for Ghost Stories. (Pictured: "Other Skies I" by Fürstová, 2011)
Mila Fürstová & Coldplay
A larger, digital version of the artwork is available on Coldplay's official website, with the ability to zoom into the artwork with a screen magnifier.
Fürstová had etched the artworks for all of the releases in the Ghost Stories album cycle, including the artwork for singles " Magic " and " Midnight ", which all use the same motif of a scenario taking place in a larger body. Fürstová, whose work has been described as "dazzling images are both contemporary and personal, searching in the surreality of dreams, tales and fables that can map the framework of our consciousness", and has won numerous awards, including the Royal College of Art Society Award in 2001 and becoming the youngest academician at the Royal West of England Academy in 2009, was invited by Coldplay to etch artworks for their new album in January 2013.
She described the collaboration between her and the band as "a most inspiring journey and a truly humbling experience to cooperate with such talented people". There are plans for an exhibition of Fürstová's Ghost Stories artworks in the Autumn of 2014 in central London. 25 original etchings and 100 high-quality digital prints of the artwork, all hand-signed by Fürstová, are also set to go on sale on 19 May 2014, the same day Ghost Stories releases in the United Kingdom and the United States.
Promotion [ ]
Main article: Ghost Stories Tour
Coldplay performed on the opening night of the televised 2014 iTunes Festival at SXSW on 11 March 2014 at the Moody Theater in Austin, Texas. In addition to performing "Magic" and "Midnight", the band performed " Always in My Head " and " Another's Arms "; the first live performances of the four songs. The band also performed "Magic" in a pre-recorded segment of Sport Relief 2014, which aired on BBC One on 21 March 2014.
In April 2014, Coldplay announced an international scavenger hunt for sheets containing lyrics to the nine songs on the album. The notes, handwritten by Martin, were placed in ghost story books in libraries around the world, with the band tweeting clues leading to their locations. One of the hidden envelopes also contained a special Golden Ticket, allowing its finder and their guest to go to London for the Coldplay concert at the Royal Albert Hall in July. The lyric sheets were found in libraries in Mexico City, Singapore, Helsinki, Barcelona, Dartford, New York City, Tauranga, Dublin, and Johannesburg.
Lyrics Hunt [ ]
TV Special [ ]
A TV special titled Coldplay: Ghost Stories was filmed March 21–23, 2014 by the Grammy-nominated director Paul Dugdale on a custom-built stage in a Sony Pictures movie soundstage in Los Angeles. Coldplay performed material from the album in its entirety for the first time. The show, which included cinematic vignettes and 360-degree projections, was attended by an audience of 800 fans and press, and was broadcast in prime time in several countries in May and June 2014. The special was then sold on DVD and Blu-ray in November 2014. Additional footage was shot at Paradise Cove in Malibu, California and at Woollett Aquatics Center in Irvine, California for the film. Chris Martin said, "The Ghost Stories show at Sony Studios was a very special moment for our band... This film is basically our original vision for the Ghost Stories album." Coldplay was also the musical act for the 3 May airing of NBC late-night sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live and performed "Magic" and " A Sky Full of Stars ". It was the band's fifth appearance on the show.
Streaming [ ]
On 12 May 2014, seven days before its release date, the album became available to stream in full via iTunes, accompanied by an animated video revolving around Fürstová's album artwork, but the band refused to allow Spotify, Beats Music, Deezer, and Rdio to stream the album until 22 September 2014, which they had previously done on their last album, Mylo Xyloto .
Target Deluxe Editon [ ]
Coldplay's Ghost Stories Album Launch Target Commercial
It is the first time that Coldplay release a Target version for their LPs. The Target deluxe edition include 3 bonus tracks which also included in A Sky Full of Stars EP : " All Your Friends , " Ghost Story " and " O (Reprise) " The Target deluxe edition also featured an alternate version of " O "
Singles [ ]
- " Magic " was released by Parlophone on 3 March 2014 as the lead single promoting Ghost Stories . The featured track, "Magic", was also made available to download through Ghost Stories on iTunes and Amazon.com the same day, with pre-orders of the album including the track as an "instant-grat" download.Following the release of the single and track, it charted on 25 national record charts, so far peaking within the top ten in 18 countries.
- A second single promoting the album, " Midnight ", was released by Parlophone on 17 April 2014 as a one-sided 7-inch vinyl for Record Store Day in a number of 3000 copies.A music video for "Midnight", was released as a teaser for the album on 25 February 2014. Ghost Stories was officially unveiled by Coldplay and Parlophone a week later on 3 March 2014, along with its artwork and track listing.
- " A Sky Full of Stars " was released digitally as the second official single on 2 May 2014. Within 24 hours from its iTunes release, the track had sold 121,690 units worldwide,peaking at number one in 86 countries on the iTunes Store Charts. The song reached number ten on the Billboard Hot 100 , making it their third top 10 hit and first since " Viva la Vida " in 2008. It also became their first number-one single on the Billboard Hot Rock Songs chart.
- On 4 August 2014, the band announced that " True Love " would be released as the third single from the album. The True Love music video, released August 22, 2014, was directed by Jonas Åkerlund and stars Chris Martin and Jessica Lucas.
- " Ink " was released as the fourth Single to Italian contemporary hit radio stations on 13 October 2014 and to US modern rock radio stations on 18 November 2014 as the album's third radio single in the country, and the fifth overall from Ghost Stories. The "Ink" music video is an interactive video, written, directed, and animated by an LA based agency, Blind. Blind worked with company Interlude to make more than 300 possible journeys throughout the music video.
Other non-singles [ ]
- The music video for " All Your Friends " was released on 7 November 2014 for the commemoration of the first World War. Although the track is not available in the standard edition of Ghost Stories , it is available in A Sky Full of Stars EP worldwide–except for the U.S. There, it is in the deluxe version of Ghost Stories sold by Target.
- An official video for " Ghost Story " was released on 9 March 2015. The video (in black and white) shows the band performing the song during their Ghost Stories tour. The song is available in the A Sky Full of Stars EP and, only in the USA, in the Target Deluxe edition of the album.
Critical reception [ ]
Ghost Stories received mixed to favorable reviews. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 61, based on 31 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews". Jason Lipshutz of Billboard wrote the magazine's track-by-track review of the album, praising it as the band's "most listenable album in years" and describing it as "an evocative concoction of sullen phrases, sparse arrangements and powerful themes." Kyle Anderson of Entertainment Weekly commented that Ghost Stories "will likely be remembered as a transitional album" and noted that "while being solid, it feels like a prequel to something better".
Larry Fitzmaurice of Pitchfork Media wrote that the album is a "subdued work that finds Chris Martin and his band crisply moping through mid-tempo soundscapes and fuzzy electronic touches that have the visceral impact of a down comforter tumbling down a flight of stairs." Nick Hasted of The Independent wrote that Martin "accepts his loss too meekly to approach the anguish of a great break-up album", but concluded that the band's "step away from grand platitudes is still one in the right direction".
Jerry Shriver of USA Today felt that "within the realm of memorable breakup albums", Ghost Stories lacked "the confessional gut-punch of Dylan's Blood on the Tracks, the acrimony of Richard and Linda Thompson's Shoot Out the Lights and the irresistible sonic appeal of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours", ultimately describing it as "not even a particularly memorable Coldplay album". While noting that Ghost Stories "should be applauded for scaling back the gaudy excesses of their previous albums", Consequence of Sound's Josh Terry opined that its songs "suffer from a lack of direction" and "could use the vitality that launched them to the top in the first place". Mikael Wood of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "The nine songs on Ghost Stories hum gently, cultivating an effective sense of intimacy. As always, there's a lot going on in the music, sculpted by the band along with various collaborators." He added, "Coldplay's new album, Ghost Stories , finds the British band setting aside its trademark grandiosity.
Chart performance [ ]
The album debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart, selling 168,000 copies in its opening week—the second largest sales of 2014. By July 2014, it had already become the best-selling album of the first half of 2014 with 375,000 copies sold in the UK. In the US, the album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with 383,000 copies sold for the week, then the biggest debut week sales of 2014. As of January 2015, the album has sold 794,000 copies in the US. In Canada, the album debuted at number one on the Canadian Albums Chart with 49,000 copies sold in its first week. It became 2014's fifth best-selling album, having sold 117,000 copies throughout the year. Worldwide, Ghost Stories sold over 3.7 million copies in 2014.
Track listing [ ]
All songs written by Coldplay ( Guy Berryman , Jonny Buckland , Will Champion , and Chris Martin ), except "Midnight" and "A Sky Full of Stars", co-written by Jon Hopkins and Tim Bergling , respectively.
Standard edition [ ]
Typeface [ ].
The typeface of the album is called "Golden Type ITC".
Unboxing [ ]
Https www.youtube.com watch?v=148rr9iCAD8
Photo Gallery [ ]
Personnel [ ]
Coldplay [ ].
- Guy Berryman – songwriting, bass guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
- Jonny Buckland – songwriting, electric guitar, keyboards, backing vocals, slide guitar
- Will Champion – songwriting, drums, percussion, drum machine, rectable, backing vocals
- Chris Martin – songwriting, piano, lead vocals, acoustic guitar, keyboards
Additional musicians [ ]
- Timbaland – extra drums (track 4)
- Apple Martin – additional vocals (track 9)
- Moses Martin – additional vocals (track 9)
- Mabel Krichefski – additional vocals (track 9)
- John Metcalfe – strings arrangement, conductor
- Davide Rossi – individual arrangement and strings (track 4)
- Tim Bergling (a.k.a. Avicii ) - keyboards (track 8)
Artistic personnel [ ]
- Mila Fürstová – artwork
- Tappin Gofton – design, art direction
- Phil Harvey – photography
Additional personnel [ ]
- Dave Holmes – management
- Paul Epworth – production
- Daniel Green – production, mixing (track 7)
- Rik Simpson – production, mixing (track 7)
- Jon Hopkins – co-production (track 5), extra magic
- Tim Bergling – co-production (track 8)
- Mark "Spike" Stent – mixing (track 1-6, 8, 9)
- Geoff Swan – assistant mixing (track 1-6, 8, 9)
- Mike Dean – "extra magic" [sic] (track 6)
- Madeon – "extra magic" (track 1, 9)
- Ted Jensen – mastering
- Olga Fitzroy – engineering
- Matt Wiggins – engineering
- Jaime Sickora – engineering
- Chris Owens – engineering
- Joe Visciano – engineering
- Tom Bailey – additional studio assistance
- Fiona Cruickshank – additional studio assistance
- Nicolas Essig – additional studio assistance
- Jeff Gartenbaum – additional studio assistance
- Christian Green – additional studio assistance
- Joseph Hartwell Jones – additional studio assistance
- Pablo Hernandez – additional studio assistance
- Neil Lambert – additional studio assistance
- Matt McGinn – additional studio assistance
- Adam Miller – additional studio assistance
- Roxy Pope – additional studio assistance
- John Prestage – additional studio assistance
- Bill Rahko – additional studio assistance
- Kyle Stevens – additional studio assistance
Charts and certifications [ ]
Year-end charts [ ], certifications [ ], release history [ ].
- ↑ http://consequenceofsound.net/2009/12/coldplay-begins-work-on-more-acoustic-new-album/
- ↑ https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/cdreviews/8838871/Coldplay-Mylo-Xyloto-CD-review.html
- ↑ https://www.rollingstone.com/music/albumreviews/mylo-xyloto-20111017
- ↑ https://www.digitalspy.com/music/a439405/coldplay-weve-got-a-name-for-our-next-album/
- ↑ https://ew.com/article/2012/11/26/coldplay-break/
- ↑ https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/news/coldplay-taking-3-hiatus-big-shows-175900546.html?guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAANKu1I0dKHMB26t0OAJzkQmTdcveoZqQVZwcJG0ULt4hevFGAw_R-relpU5bfRmvEKg55nVC9VDan2LK_zwUZCAfT5PBcff_SmWgbZPrPr-7YeWTaJFkKd_CkkuBANhMJY5emO287cWNj7HgmlM-tuThXFuapDkke2oQTID0Spox
- ↑ https://web.archive.org/web/20141215065701/http://coldplay.com/oracledetail_pop.php?id=3866&page=0&iframe=true
- ↑ https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-21531452
- ↑ https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p015d47l
- ↑ https://web.archive.org/web/20140516183605/http://www.coldplaying.com/lp6/
- 1 Moon Music
- 2 Green Eyes
clock This article was published more than 9 years ago
Coldplay’s ‘Ghost Stories’: This is what a conscious uncoupling sounds like
“Ghost Stories” is Coldplay’s first album since lead singer Chris Martin’s separation from Gwyneth Paltrow launched a thousand conscious uncoupling jokes. Some of the best albums in history have been born out of such domestic strife. But for Coldplay, which has always treated romantic misery as an all-you-can-eat-buffet, an album full of gloomy songs about love gone wrong is in itself unremarkable. The band was making divorce albums before anybody actually got married.
"Ghost Stories" is stripped-down and slippery, a pointed de-escalation from their last album, " Mylo Xyloto ." Both incredibly popular and intensely disliked, "Mylo Xyloto" was outsize and over-produced, a helium balloon of an album that existed in a state of Peak Coldplay. The band's basic formula — ringing anthems, earnest-but-vague lyrics — was inflated to the point of absurdity.
In its preference for acoustic ballads instead of stadium-ready electro-pop, “Ghost Stories” is a retrenchment, a conscious return to the relative simplicity of the band’s debut, “Parachutes.” There’s a great exercise in Technicolor dubstep-like pop courtesy of Avicii (“A Sky Full of Stars”), but everything else feels like a retreat. It’s as if Coldplay has decided they want to be less like U2 in 1991 and more like Coldplay in 2001, as if no time had elapsed, and no real artistic progress had been made, in the years since.
There is less of a sense of puffed-up grandeur than any of the band’s recent outings, but grandeur was something Coldplay did well, if too often. Grandeur can cover a multitude of sins. These spartan songs — elongated, intimate and quiet — lay bare every weakness of melody (Martin used to write superlative ones. He seems to have given up) and songwriting.
Lyrically, “Ghost Stories” is fascinating (in theory, at least) for the same reasons it’s so vicariously depressing. This isn’t Coldplay’s usual conspicuous mopery; this is a public bloodletting: “True Love” is a raw, synth-driven mid-tempo ballad about the disintegration of a relationship, driven by Martin’s spectral falsetto (“Tell me you love me / If you don’t, then lie”). The similarly themed “Ink,” loping and percussive, feels like something Jack Johnson might make if he were British and sad all the time. Its lyrics read like bad “Twilight” fan fiction (“All I know / Is that I’m lost / In your fire below”).
Martin is as polarizing a figure in his world as Paltrow is in hers, and “Ghost Stories” humanizes them while still managing to be universal in its reach. Sometimes it does this too much: Martin is a master of lyrical generalities, adept at telegraphing basic emotions — I’m lonely, I’m sad, I’ll meet you in the rain, I’ll fly away like a bird — but unequal to the deep dive a truly classic breakup album requires.
Still, there has never been such a revealing relationship album written by one celebrity we felt as if we knew about another celebrity we also felt as if we knew, even if its revelations may not all be intentional. This isn’t just an album of garment-rending breakup songs, it’s an album with giddy newfound love songs. Songs written about someone who clearly isn’t Gwyneth Paltrow, by someone who was married to Gwyneth Paltrow at the time.
So it’s awkward. “A Sky Full of Stars” (“Cause you get brighter the more it gets dark / I’m gonna give you my heart”), an unofficial sequel to “Yellow,” is as anthemic, and as happy, as things get, which is to say, not very. “Magic” rides the mildest electro pulse imaginable, but it’s one of the few tracks that feels as if it was made by a band. “Ghost Stories” can come uncomfortably close to resembling a Chris Martin solo album.
With sometime collaborator Brian Eno (he produced the fine “Viva la Vida” and contributed to the tolerable parts of “Mylo Xyloto”) absent, and guitarist Jonny Buckland unwisely minimized (“Ghost Stories” belongs to its synths, pianos and bass), Martin is left to his own devices. The result is a great premise chained to an album of modest pleasures, its lyrics too ethereal to carry much charge, its melodies too mild to prop them up. As a piece of art, “Ghost Stories” is an exercise in frustrated potential. As a historical document of a celebrity divorce as a slow-motion car crash, it’s not much either, but it’s the best we have.
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Coldplay: Ghost Stories review – Chris Martin's heartache hasn't inspired poetry
T he tracklisting for Coldplay's sixth album was announced on 3 March, almost three weeks to the day before singer Chris Martin and his wife Gwyneth Paltrow announced their separation, by way of a brief post that appeared amid the recipes for pasta with dandelion leaves and quinoa-stuffed kiobtcha on the latter's website, Goop. It didn't take a genius to link the contents of the first document with the second: there was always a chance that songs called things like Another's Arms and Always in My Head might navigate similar emotional terrain to Boney M's Hooray! Hooray! It's a Holi-Holiday!, but it didn't seem terribly likely.
The realisation that Ghost Stories is Coldplay's divorce album might even cause someone hitherto uninterested in the band's oeuvre to feel a certain prickle of interest. As they've gone about the business of selling 70m albums, one of the most persistent criticisms aimed at them is that, for all its undoubted ability to entice stadium audiences to lift their lighters aloft, their music is so fixated on moving vast crowds of people that it doesn't deal in anything other than universally applicable but ultimately hollow generalities: what a recent New York Times review damningly called "sympathetic songs [that] serve as stand-ins for feeling … a clear outline to fill in". Perhaps a dose of public heartbreak might provide some substance.
Ghost Stories signposts its emotional temperature from the off: it opens with a female choir, wordless and sorrowful, who give way to a distinctly muted variation on Coldplay's patented mesh of echoing guitar and Chris Martin singing, "I think of you, I haven't slept." It sets the tone of the album, which proceeds to do all the things you'd expect – echoing guitars, wafty electronics, elegiac piano ballads that swell into anthemic territory, tasteful string arrangements, falsetto vocals – only more dolefully than before.
Anyone hoping Ghost Stories might offer a glimpse into the complex workings of a soul undergoing the trauma of divorce, juxtaposing a variety of contrasting emotions along the way, is going to be disappointed. Ghost Stories is an album that, metaphorically speaking, just mopes about the place in its dressing gown, too sorry for itself to do or say much. It sighs and stares out of the window at some birds (O), sighs and looks at the telephone, which doesn't ring (Oceans) and has a wistful little think about the good times (True Love). Another's Arms finds it slumped alone in front of the telly, glumly ruminating that it's nicer watching the telly with someone else, especially if that someone else is giving you a cuddle.
You might point out that this is an accurate depiction of misery, that heartbreak is actually a pretty mundane business that does indeed involve much moping about the place in your dressing gown and slumping in front of the telly. Moreover, as anyone who's ever tried consoling a heartbroken friend will tell you, they tend to talk in precisely the kind of platitudes on offer here: "It feels like there's something broken inside", "I love you so much it hurts", "I don't want anyone else but you." In response, you might equally reasonably point out that it's the job of an artist to find the extraordinary in the everyday, to take a universal, mundane experience and say something insightful or striking or original or witty about it. If you can't, don't bother getting changed out of your dressing gown: you might as well stay slumped in front of Bargain Hunt until you can be bothered to get up.
As it is, Ghost Stories proves a rather chastening experience for anyone who believes Martin's lyrics dealt in cliches because he had one gimlet eye permanently fixed on mass appeal. No, it suggests, that's just the way he writes, even with his gaze fixed inward, lost in his own personal misery. There's no doubt Ghost Stories is a beautifully-produced album, full of lovely sonic details: glitchy, clicking drum patterns high in the mix, the sonar-like noise that runs through Oceans in lieu of a beat, the way the piano riff of A Sky Full of Stars gradually gives way to a vast, EDM-like synth. There are certainly nice tunes, but the music seems to have consciously uncoupled itself from the swaggering, shameless melodies that peppered Coldplay's previous albums: there's nothing here built along the undeniable lines of Paradise or Viva La Vida or The Scientist .
Whether that's an act of bravery or evidence of a lack of inspiration is a moot point, but in their absence, the most striking things here are the tracks that shift furthest away from the standard Coldplay blueprint: the lovely, beatless, vocoder-heavy drift of Midnight – based on an old track by electronic auteur Jon Hopkins – and the single Magic , which sounds not unlike the kind of beautifully understated pop song Everything But the Girl might have come up with in their mid-90s dance music phase.
The rest is understated and equivocal, pleasant but underwhelming. It begs indulgence, then doesn't do enough to repay it. That's the problem with moping around in your dressing gown: eventually people's sympathy wears out.
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Ghost Stories by Coldplay
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