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 “Pop”. REM were on the slow decline 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's lacking in intensity, lacking in commitment, and makes Damon Albarn's “Everyday Robots” sound like Slayer. There's nothing wrong with a band that makes music that is not a sonic assualt – but it has to have purpose, passion, 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” - is just nothing but ebbs. The guitars, bass, and the appallingly absent drums sound like apologies, mumbled whispers, 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. Here, 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 -notaggressive 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, no inner material.
This record is boring. It is an anaemic sound ; diluted. The music – all of it – is slow paced, built on a barely-present, limp production. The drums sounds like apologies. The lyrics and performances are simply anodyne, at best, and at worst, wilfully underachieving. Coldplay are better of so so much more than this.