Coldplay - Ghost Stories (Capitol)
These British rockers emerged nearly 20 years ago as a kinder, gentler answer to Radiohead. In spite of those derivative tendencies, they’ve managed to find a strong foothold. The band’s albums regularly go platinum, and the group has won a number of Grammys. Their latest studio effort is the band’s sixth overall and first in three years. Despite working with cutting edge electronica producer and DJ Avicii, the album doesn’t have any real surprises. Reportedly a breakup album (singer Chris Martin and his wife, actress Gwyneth Paltrow, split at the time of its recording), it features the usual quotient of somber ballads. With soft drumbeats and whispered vocals, “Magic” shows off Martin’s soulful side; with hushed vocals and gently percolating keyboard riffs, “Midnight” sounds like vintage Coldplay. Ghost Stories certainly isn’t a bad album but it’s not as dramatic a departure as most reviewers would have you think.