Album of the Week: Coldplay's Ghost Stories

From the opener, "Always in My Head," through the final track, "O," Coldplay's Ghost Stories is a somber affair. Unlike some breakup records--such as Natalie Imbruglia's undervalued Come to Life (which Chris Martin helped write and produce)--Coldplay's newest offering has neither a redemption narrative nor a moment of transformation. Instead, it mines melancholy, like the single "Magic," which pines for hope in the midst of divorce. Most of the album plays with subdued textures reminiscent of the band's first record, Parachutes, but without the variety. The only exception may be the Avicii-assisted "A Sky Full of Stars," but even with the house master's beats, the track still has a dance-with-tears-in-your-eyes quality. As such, the album works as a mood piece, even if it may not be the band's sharpest pop.

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