[sic] Magazine

Coldplay – Ghost Stories

Six albums. Eighteen years. At this point, the bands I grew up with had gone much further. U2 were at the height of their stadium madness with their 9th record – the bonkers PopREM were on the slow decline of their 11th record, Reveal, Coldplay meanwhile are merely very, very sorry. This record is a limp apology, Chris Martin on his knees begging the universe to forgive him for the sin of breathing.

Sure, some of you will think that Coldplay have crafted a record of great beauty, or something. But that’s not what I hear. It is lacking in intensity, lacking in commitment, and makes Damon Albarn‘s Everyday Robotssound like Slayer. There’s nothing wrong with a band making music that is not a sonic assault – but it has to have purpose, passion and a reason to exist. Elbow, who may very well be a somewhat laidback band, at least have moments of light and shade, harnessed power and tenderness, ebbs and flows. This record – Ghost Stories – just ebbs. The guitars, bass, and the appallingly absent drums sound like apologies, mumbled whispers, and a half-hearted and utterly tedious wimp. “Oh, I’m Sorry, Mr Bully, Did My Face Hurt Your Shoe?”

I always thought Liam Gallagher was being harsh when he called them bed-wetter music, but I think he’s got a point here. At their best, Coldplay – in 2002 – were a great live band, with passion power and perception. This record is passionless. It might be that Martin has been hollowed out by his record ‘conscious uncoupling’; the kind of evasive management speak of passive -nonaggressive tofu eaters. It’s embarrassing to me that Martin is not just prematurely middle-aged, but embracing mediocrity and apathy so willingly. This isn’t the sound of a broken heart, but of a willing surrender, a man sleepwalking to his own artistic grave. Even ‘Magic’ is built on a hesitant drum sound, a barely-there vocal, a staggering lack of compulsion. He sounds bored. He sounds as if he’s making music through habit. I’ve seen more excitement and more fire on a production line in a bottle factory by people twice his age. The most lively thing on this record is ‘A Sky Full Of Stars’, because it sounds like it was made with a genuine human being playing drums and not an ancient drum machine taken from a 1992 handheld Nintendo cartridge.

This record is a snivelling apology. The Ghost here is the band itself, who whilst they may be present, in terms of vague sound and appearance, appear to have – when you touch them – no substance, no presence, and no inner material. Ghost Stories is boring. It is a diluted, anaemic sound. The music – all of it – is slow paced, built on a barely-present, limp production. The drums sound like apologies. The lyrics and performances are simply anodyne, at best, and at worst, wilfully underachieving. Coldplay are capable of so much more than this.

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