•Coldplay, “Ghost Stories” (Parlophone/Atlantic)
Chris Martin's breakup album deals with love and loss in generalities rather than specifics. But then, not many words rhyme with “Gwyneth.”
“I'm ready for the pain,” Coldplay's frontman sings on “Oceans.” “I'm ready for a change.”
Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow announced in March they were uncoupling after more than a decade of marriage, which intensified anticipation Coldplay might stray from its familiar formula on the band's sixth album, “Ghost Stories.”
The lyrics do suggest Martin's trying to escape ghosts in his past, but he surrounds his singing with the digital drone of synthesizers and never digs too deep to describe his heartache. “Blood on the Tracks” this is not.
Instead, the band's music remains appealing mostly for its surface sheen. Several arrangements on the nine-track set are intimate by arena-band standards, and the best sound like Martin singing in his bedroom.
“Another's Arms” offers a dreamy chorus for Bic wavers, and the band cranks it up on “A Sky Full of Stars,” which was co-produced by Avicii and has a thump and hook to please the club crowd.
Most of the album was created with producer Paul Epworth, best known for his Grammy- and Oscar-winning work with Adele, as well as Florence + the Machine and Foster the People. But Epworth doesn't bring out the best version of Coldplay.
On “Ghost Stories,” there's little piano, guitar or percussion, and there are few memorable melodies or surprises, which is why a discordant guitar note on “True Love” stands out. The soft focus of the words and music makes for sterile gauze, which is one way to treat a wounded heart.
•Afrojack, “Forget the World” (Def Jam)
Electronic dance music favorite Afrojack wants to make people dance, and it's mission accomplished (if you're under 25) with his 13-track debut album, “Forget the World.”
Beats come courtesy of the Grammy Award-winning DJ, while guests such as Wrabel, Chris Brown and Sting bring the vocals.
And showing why the 26-year-old's remix skills have him on speed dial for Beyonce, Pitbull and Paris Hilton, he includes his remix of Thirty Second To Mars' “Do or Die” as a bonus track on “Forget the World.”
Unfortunately the guest vocalists don't leave much of an impression. Brown's singing is nondescript in the high energy “As Your Friend,” while Wrabel talks about “never coming down” and “touching the sky” as he plays the piano to a backdrop of high-octane beats on “Ten Feet Tall.”
If you're not into loud, pulsating beats, however, there's not much for you here apart from the wispy vocals of Sting on the pop-friendly “Catch Tomorrow,” which offers light relief.
Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa offer the album's best moments. While some of the more “electronic” songs all sound a bit formulaic, Snoop's “Dynamite” and Khalifa's “Too Wild” stand out. They're energetic, bass driven and laden with dirty beats.
“Forget The World” will no doubt have the EDM kids punching the air in joy. Everyone else might want to punch something else.