Coldplay has officially announced their 6th studio album titled Ghost Stories, set to be released on May 19th. With the release of the single “Magic” and some initial public reaction, let’s look at what Ghost Stories promises to bring.
No More Mylo Xyloto
From the opening notes of Coldplay’s first single “Magic”, it is clear that the new record is going to have a completely new sound. The British quartet sharply departs from the multi-layered and colorful sound of Mylo Xyloto, opting instead for a much more stripped down sound. You get the same vibe from the other song Coldplay has released from Ghost Stories titled “Midnight”. So far, from what I have read, this new sound has led to mixed reactions from fans. Inevitably, some are accusing Coldplay of selling out for becoming too “pop-y”. As I mentioned back in my first blog post about John Mayer, I think people need to be very cautious when using the term “selling out”. Every time a band changes their sound, there are always people who accuse them of selling out. The reality is that a band cannot remain static for their entire career; change is inevitable, and it is often in the direction of what is popular (after all, bands do need to sell albums to make a living). Sure, Coldplay’s new sound is different, but they are not selling out. In my view, Coldplay has always been a band that effectively experiments with new sounds while keeping their core identity. I think we’ll see the same thing on Ghost Stories, even if it turns out to be a chill album that you listen to on a rainy day.
Alright, time for me to go on a little rant. I am tired of the constant reduction of the number of songs that go on albums these days. I remember the time when bands were putting fourteen or fifteen songs on an album. Now, the common number seems to be 11. I’m no expert on the music business, but I’m 99% sure this mandate of evil comes from the record companies. I understand that they’re trying to make money, but 11 songs is a little low, let alone 9 (the number of songs on Ghost Stories). Plus, bands are now releasing multiple singles, which means you’re hearing more songs before the album even comes out. While some people may enjoy this, I do not. I like to hear an album in its entirety from a baseline of zero. I actually find myself refusing to listen to my favorite band’s singles while I wait in anticipation for the release of the full album. In the case of Ghost Stories, we have already heard two out of the nine songs. According to my handy dandy iPhone calculator, this is 22% of the album. Personally, this makes the release of the rest of the album a bit of a disappointment. Of course, many bands are countering this by releasing deluxe editions of albums with “bonus tracks”, which (surprise) cost more money. All this is an aside, but is nevertheless an interesting look at how the music business is changing.
Even two months before Ghost Stories is set to be released, it seems like the album is being set up as a disappointment. However, the eternal optimist within me says not to worry. Coldplay is one of those few bands who always make a good album. When I first heard “Princess of China” off Mylo Xyloto, I thought the album was going to be terrible for the same reasons as those clamoring about Ghost Stories– the sound was different and definitely more poppy. Today, it is one of my favorite albums. Ghost Stories will definitely be different, but different is not always bad.