Wednesday, May 28, 2014

'Ghost Stories': I Call It Magic

In 2008, 'Violet Hill' grabbed my attention, and refused to let go. Something in those drum beats held my imagination captive, and no matter how many times I played the song on repeat, I just couldn't get enough. And so we fast-forward to Coldplay rapidly climbing the ranks of my favourite bands, through the news that they were finally set to tour SA, through the MX hype, nearly crying on a barrier as Chris Martin stood two meters from my face, through the 'Paradise' video, and that time I just happened upon their studio in Camden, North London. And after all of this fast-forwarding, we land in early 2014, when out of nowhere, a song called 'Midnight' appears, along with an accompanying video. I turn up my nose in grave distaste - no matter how many people might disagree with me, I answer all questions related to the song with "I hate it". As the arrival of the newly announced album - 'Ghost Stories' - comes ever closer, I fear the worst: I'll hate it with ever fibre of my being. The love that I had for 'Viva La Vida' will be equalled in hate for this train wreck of an album.

Or not.

The release of 'Magic' saw a return to form, in my opinion, and suddenly my excitement for the album increased a million-fold. When it was finally here, it didn't disappoint.

I'm not going to pretend to be a critic and write some crazy NME-style review complete with links to comparable work and pompous criticisms, I'm simply going to provide my own track-by-track opinion of the album. Let's begin:

1) 'Always in My Head' - not a stand out track for me, but a calm, mellow way to begin the album. They're just getting us warmed up.

2) 'Magic - love. Love. Did I mention love? From the very first beats, you can hear that this is pure Coldplay at their finest. It's clear that a lot of time and effort went into ensuring that this was the perfect song for a first single.

3) Ink - my personal favourite. On every album I have ever listened to, I have found one track that I've bonded with beyond all others. This is that track. Knowing some background to the reasons behind this album (Chris's break-up with Gwynnie), and tiny facts like that Chris has a 'G' tattooed somewhere on his body, really put the song in perspective. But lyrics aside, it's got one of the most fantastic beats I've ever heard in a Coldplay song. Top track.

4) True Love - oh, what a beautiful song. The lyrics "tell me you love me, if you don't then lie to me" just cut right through me! He's aching for GP to tell him that she loves him! Even if it's a lie! BRB, crying in a corner.

5) Midnight - kill it with fire. That's all.

6) 'Another's Arms' - another one of those songs that makes me go "ouch" for Chris Martin. There's some implication that GP is now in another's arms rather than his. Oh, Chris, what Coldplay fan wouldn't want to keep you company as you watch TV late at night? (Too much...?)

7) Oceans - I can't explain why, but this song causes me physical pain. It's not often that music is so beautiful that it affects me in this way, I mean, it's not often that anything at all invokes any kind of emotion in me at all, so you must know. It's part-lyrics, part-instruments, part the way Chris sings those lyrics, that makes me feel like a knife is going through my heart every time I reach track 7.

8) A Sky Full of Stars - hated upon first listen. By the third time, I'd warmed-up to the song slightly, although I still hate the bass drop. Don't you come telling me that that's the way music goes nowadays... there are plenty of Avicii-alikes out there to keep the bass-dropping genre alive - Coldplay does not have to join. But reaching number 1 in something like 73 countries within a day must say something - they can't all  be wrong. And once I'd looked far enough beneath the surface, I found some true Coldplay under all that rave. It's basically Charlie Brown gone Tiger Tiger*.

9) O - we end our album journey on the same calm, quiet note upon which we began. And as soon as the music fades, I want to re-start from the beginning.

The verdict? I'll always be a 'Viva La Vida' girl. That was my Coldplay era, and some things never change. 'Mylo Xyloto' was the time I saw Coldplay live, so I'll always have a soft spot for it, but as a whole, 'Ghost Stories' is perhaps a stronger album than its predecessor. It's tragic, it's haunting and it's beautiful. One thing is for certain: I need to see these songs performed live. 

*Popular Cape Town night club.