Thursday, March 13, 2014

Telling "Ghost Stories:" Coldplay's New Song(s) and Album

Over the past few weeks, Coldplay has released two new songs and announced the name and release date of their sixth album: Ghost Stories and May 19, respectively. I've written briefly, long ago, about being a dedicated Coldplay fan, defending their unfairly-maligned 2011 album Mylo Xyloto as a bold step forward into the changing sound of rock music. In 2012, when the band had announced a three-year hiatus from touring, I wondered if this meant they were going to be working on new material or if this meant they were taking a break, period. Many assumed the former, and when they contributed the beautiful song "Atlas" to the soundtrack for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, it certainly seemed like a new album was imminent. With their new material, they seem to be taking that new, electronic-influenced sound even further.

More after the jump.


The first official single, "Magic," belongs to the same kind of sound that marked Mylo Xyloto. Moving at a sweet mid-tempo pace, the song rides a relaxed beat while Chris Martin sings about how feeling love is like magic. Gently-strumming guitars come in, adding to the atmosphere, as does a swirling keyboard in the background. Thematically, it's a typical song for the group, but its ambient sound makes for an easy listening. However, I would be remiss to say that it's a stronger lead single than "Paradise" or "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall," both of which accompanied Mylo Xyloto.


Paired with promotional single "Midnight," it seems that "Magic" is indicative of Ghost Stories being a more low-key album. "Midnight" begins with a thumping backbeat and droning synthesizers, with the soft arpeggios of marimba and piano driving the sound. Chris Martin's vocals have been distorted and layered, creating an otherworldly presence within the song. It crescendos into the closest the band has ever come to full-on dance-floor freakout, as a skittering synth pattern twitches over the now-pulsating beat. "Midnight" sounds like Bon Iver finally cutting loose at a dance club. Of the two singles, it's the stronger one for me.

To use the U2 comparison that many people (unfortunately) make, Coldplay has fully entered its 1990s Zooropa/Pop phase, where the band is willing to get weird and dabble in electronic music. I, for one, am fully enjoying this transition. Are you looking forward to the new album as well? And what are your favorite Coldplay songs? Let me know in the comments.

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