Coldplay on Trial

Posted: June 11, 2014 in New Music, Rock
Tags: , , , , , ,

If you’ve been following my thoughts for long enough, you already know how I feel about Coldplay (click here if you need a refresher.) Last month they once again thrust themselves into the spotlight with their latest release, Ghost Stories, and are now forced to stand trial.

In their first two albums – Parachutes and A Rush of Blood to the Head – what set Coldplay apart from most other bands was their ability to emote with abundant intensity, using both their lyrics and music. It was an unshakeable draw into their world. You could just feel that constant knot in your stomach, hear that breaking heart, and succumb to whatever mood they portrayed. At that time, not many bands were doing this well. Their third album X&Y followed suit, and pushed them front and center.

But somehow with their exponential rise to fame, the quality of their music suffered. With their next consecutive albums – Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends and Mylo Xyloto – they were guilty of releasing tracks of no substance, of simplistic lyrics, of little meaning. They were guilty of sinking to pedestrian metaphors, nowhere near the genius of their previous works. This was amateur work from a pro band. It wasn’t the Coldplay I was used to, it wasn’t the Coldplay I fell for, so I distanced myself.

 I was hesitant to even attempt to survive their newest album, but hanging on to the hope that the original Coldplay may return, I gave it a whirl. What I heard was pleasantly surprising. It was entirely different, not even close to anything Coldplay’s ever done. I listened to it over and over again trying to pinpoint exactly what was going on. They seemed to be experimenting with a new sound, a new direction. It was reminiscent of when U2 went in the a more electronic direction with 1997’s Pop album. I had to commend Coldplay for stepping out of the comfort of their mainstream box.

Ghost Stories has an ethereal quality to it. It seems to focus a lot more heavily on the music and sounds themselves, as opposed to the lyrics. It would be just as effective without the words, because the music is strong enough to transport you. Old school Coldplay was an emotional experience; mainstream Coldplay was a non-experience; this new Coldplay is an out-of-body experience, like it’s elevating your soul. It slowly seeps into your body and mind, until you end up in an imaginary world with that cute DJ you met at the club last week or until you realize you missed your exit on the highway.

It’s like what they used to be able to elicit with their lyrics alone, they’ve managed to do with their music. Is it a case of trying to be different to stay relevant, or simply an honest move in a new direction? Hard to say. There’s a lot of reference to space, time, the unknown, even the supernatural. They’re toying with abstract themes, intangible for the listener, leaving a sense of intrigue, because it’s completely open to interpretation.

It’s hard to judge this Coldplay album, because it isn’t a Coldplay album. It’s like a brand new band, who put out a solid, fantastic, musical experience. I hope this isn’t a one-off, a phase Coldplay’s going through, before they return to lazy music. I hope this is their new direction, and that they continue to evolve. So for now, Coldplay is innocent. Let’s hope they’re not proven guilty.


  1. […] of art. So much was said, in so few words, as the music did most of the talking. I was completely surprised by the maturity and introspection in this album, as Coldplay hasn’t put out an album true to […]

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