The rock band has a new brand of heartache
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Coldplay became the biggest rock band in the world, just as the very concept began to seem antiquated, by distilling the sound of their ancestors and critically feted contemporaries into hypermelodic, stadium-size anthems. Their sixth studio album, Ghost Stories, finds them once again employing that sonic approach but with different source material. Much of the album sounds like Coldplay’s take on an acclaimed vein of gentle, emotionally vulnerable music that explores the overlapping realms of rock, R&B and electronic sounds: Bon Iver’s warped woodsy hymns, James Blake’s throbbing confessionals, the xx’s muted pillow talk. (There is one outlier, a pounding quasi-EDM collaboration with the popular producer Avicii; it reeks of pandering.) Chris Martin’s signature nimble, soft falsetto pairs well with this new, adjusted direction, though the heightened focus on groove and piano-based melody marginalizes the dependable contributions of lead guitarist Jonny Buckland.