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Coldplay: Ghost Stories (Parlophone)

THE cover of Coldplay's sixth studio album offers a major clue as to what you'll find inside: a pair of angel wings consciously uncoupled to resemble a broken heart.

Gone are the pop hooks that made adequate mainstream albums out of Viva La Vida and Mylo Xyloto; in come Chris Martin's most internal musings since Parachutes, as the singer publicly shares the pain, betrayal and loneliness he has experienced during his break-up from Gwyneth Patrow.

This can be a good thing: the restrained hip-hop beat of Magic is a blessed relief from the jolly-'em-up stadium-singalong formula of the previous albums, and co-writer Jon Hopkins's electronica input to Midnight cloaks Martin's emotions in a moody gauze.

However, over the length of an entire album, the slow pace and whispery style of Martin's vocal delivery emphasise the essential dreariness that plagues so many of his songs. A calculated attempt to sidestep this - the Avicii-produced Euro whoosh of A Sky Full Of Stars - is like hitting the dancefloor in M&S cardigan and chinos.

The fact that Martin's daughter Apple and son Moses provide backing vocals at certain points is something listeners will either find mawkish or moving. As ever with Coldplay, you've probably decided which of those camps you belong to before you've even heard the songs.

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