Let’s just get this out of the way: I’m a massive Coldplay fan. They were my favorite band throughout high school and the beginning of my college career; I own all of their albums on CD and vinyl, and I cried my eyes out the first time I saw them live in June of 2012. I love Coldplay.

It’s my love for the band that makes me feel even more disappointed by the fact that I’m not impressed by their new album, Ghost Stories, released in the States on May 19.

By this point, Coldplay fans and many non-Coldplay fans are aware of Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow’s recent “conscious uncoupling,” and that knowledge is important to keep in mind when sitting down with this album. It is undeniably a breakup album, and along with that label comes the mournful lyrics and melancholy sounds that are so characteristic of the genre (and of Coldplay’s sound in general).

At times, the album is a beautiful, heart-wrenching ode to a lost relationship; tracks like “Midnight,” “Another’s Arms,” and “O” are tracks that will join the ranks of Coldplay classics. Martin’s vocals remain as crystal-clear and effective as they have ever been, the rest of the band’s instrumental work is remarkable (guitarist Jonny Buckland in particular shines on “True Love”), and – at times – the lyrics are moving and emotional (“got to find yourself alone in this world,” “fly on, ride through; maybe one day I’ll fly next to you”).

There are many occasions, however, when the album just doesn’t feel…right.

Coldplay’s first release from this album was “Midnight,” debuting in late February in a move that surprised all but the most in-tune Coldplay fans (some had been tweeting rumors of the song’s release for several days before it happened). The song, characterized by a relaxed vibe and heavy synths, is a new direction for the band, and it’s striking, somehow uniquely Coldplay and simultaneously entirely different from anything they’ve released in the past.

However, in one of the more disappointing aspects of the album, the band abandons this sound for the rest of the tracks. The heavy studio production and synthesizers are still there, but at no point in the album do they reach the tasteful and captivating usage that they do in “Midnight.” Indeed, on multiple occasions, the production becomes far too heavy-handed and detracts from the album’s beauty. Coldplay is typically at their best when they scale back the studio tricks and depend on their skill with their instruments and their songwriting (“Shiver,” “Amsterdam,” “Swallowed in the Sea”). The album’s highlight in this regard is the gorgeous “O,” which features only Martin’s mournful vocals and the accompanying piano. It’s the most memorable and genuine track on Ghost Stories, and it serves as a fantastic closer and a reminder of just how good Coldplay can be when they forego the studio tricks.

It is, of course, worth noting Coldplay is capable of producing and has produced many beautiful tracks with a high level of production (“Talk,” “Cemeteries of London,” “Clocks”). The issue with Ghost Stories is that it offers far too many tracks that are muddled with production that distracts from the music’s raw emotion and skillful instrumentation, and this is perhaps never so evident than with “A Sky Full of Stars,” a song co-produced with EDM legend Tim Bergling, better known as Avicii. The song is the album’s one major misstep; as a whole, Ghost Stories is a mediocre effort, but “A Sky Full of Stars” is the one track on the record that can be described as cringe-worthy.

Ghost Stories is not a terrible album. At times, it offers genuinely emotional, memorable tracks; at others, it provides overproduced songs with weak lyrics. The album isn’t a tragedy, but, much like preceding album Mylo Xyloto, it doesn’t reach anywhere near the band’s previous heights and ends up being an underwhelming work. Coldplay is a band that has repeatedly affirmed that they are capable of great things. They just don’t quite reach them with Ghost Stories.

My advice? If you’re a Coldplay fan, buy it on iTunes and give it a couple of listens. It isn’t worth rushing out to buy on vinyl, but you’ll likely find a couple of songs worthy of your “faves” playlist. If you haven’t listened to Coldplay much, go back to their first two albums, Parachutes and A Rush of Blood to the Head before judging them on Ghost Stories. And if you’re one of those people that hates Coldplay, skip the album entirely; it won’t change your mind.

How did you feel about ‘Ghost Stories’?

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 brings the L.M.D. storyline to a truly wild end. Here’s what to expect from “Self Control”!

You don’t know what’s coming

Yeah, there’s a synopsis for “Self Control” — “Suspicion turns to paranoia when the team doesn’t know who can be trusted as more LMDs infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D.” But that’s the equivalent of saying that Iron Man is about a goateed man who can fly.

Sure, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 answers a lot of questions about who is and who isn’t a robot. More profoundly though, the episode goes in for a final knead and punch of the ideas that have been floating around all season.

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 brings the L.M.D. storyline to a truly wild end. Here’s what to expect from “Self Control”!

You don’t know what’s coming

Yeah, there’s a synopsis for “Self Control” — “Suspicion turns to paranoia when the team doesn’t know who can be trusted as more LMDs infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D.” But that’s the equivalent of saying that Iron Man is about a goateed man who can fly.

Sure, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 answers a lot of questions about who is and who isn’t a robot. More profoundly though, the episode goes in for a final knead and punch of the ideas that have been floating around all season.

Free will and humanity. Sacrifice and love. The nature of reality — and even of life itself. Beneath the plot, surprises, and pain, that’s what’s really going on in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spring finale.

That, and the characters who get caught in the middle.

Jed Whedon is Not. Playing. Around.

Executive producer and showrunner Jed Whedon is the man behind the pen and the camera in “Self Control,” and he’s there for a reason. Whedon’s first try at the director’s chair on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is operatic, incisive, and perpetually gut-clenching.

Yes, there are lovely and disturbing vistas, an artistry that comes from a deliberate and careful eye. But more important is the unshakable Whedon impulse that animates Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15, that builds through the episode like a cresting tide.

You know that unmistakable sense that someone is laughing behind the scenes? Yeah. That’s why Jed Whedon is here.

What’s next?

Well, that’s a very good question. “Self Control” leaves us with a few razor-like possibilities, all of which lead down spiky corridors of questions. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15 is here to leave us thirsty for the season’s final seven episodes, and that’s exactly what it does.

Oh, and to answer your next question…

Cliffhanger?

Uh, yes. Cliffhanger.

Oh boy, cliffhanger.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×15, “Self Control,” airs Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 10:00 p.m. on ABC.

What are your top theories for ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ 4×15?

Have President’s Day off? Here are some movies, TV shows, and soundtracks with which to celebrate President’s Day.

‘Hamilton’


Even if you were somehow lucky enough to have already seen the musical, you might as well celebrate today with another listen to the soundtrack. In case you have been living under a rock, Hamilton is a hip-hop, rap, musical about Alexander Hamilton. Yes, Hamilton never became president, but the musical does include multiple would-be presidents. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and even birthday boy himself George Washington are heavily featured in Hamilton. Based on the biography by Ron Chernow, you can get a history lesson while you listen to great music.

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Have President’s Day off? Here are some movies, TV shows, and soundtracks with which to celebrate President’s Day.

‘Hamilton’


Even if you were somehow lucky enough to have already seen the musical, you might as well celebrate today with another listen to the soundtrack. In case you have been living under a rock, Hamilton is a hip-hop, rap, musical about Alexander Hamilton. Yes, Hamilton never became president, but the musical does include multiple would-be presidents. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and even birthday boy himself George Washington are heavily featured in Hamilton. Based on the biography by Ron Chernow, you can get a history lesson while you listen to great music.

‘Liberty’s Kids’


Liberty’s Kids aired in the early 2000s on PBS. Liberty’s Kids follows three teenagers from varying backgrounds throughout the American Revolution, mentored by Benjamin Franklin. It is geared for children but is still pretty enjoyable for adults. In each episode, the teenagers encounter a significant person or event from the revolution, giving a concise and entertaining history lesson. The show features many important figures throughout the revolution, showing even more presidents than in Hamilton. As one can imagine, Washington is among these.

‘Lincoln’


Lincoln is a 2012, Oscar nominated movie, directed by Steven Spielberg based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s biography of Abraham Lincoln, Team of Rivals. Instead of a biopic of Lincoln’s entire life, Lincoln is specifically about his passing of the 13th amendment. Essentially directed between each of his science fiction blockbusters, Spielberg also made many significant historical movies, Lincoln among them. Lincoln not only shows his power as a president, but also humanizes him through an Oscar winning performance by Daniel Day-Lewis.

‘1776’


Hamilton is not the first musical about American history. Thankfully, though, because this way there are other options, one of which is 1776. Even more conveniently, the musical 1776 was adapted into a movie in the early 1970s. Heavily implied by its name, 1776 is about the signing of the Declaration of Independence. 1776 definitely has a more classical musical theater vibe than Hamilton. The strange combination of American history and musical theater allows for a humorous yet educational experience. However, as reflective of the history of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Washington is not a character in the musical; yet, it obviously includes many other significant historical figures.

‘The West Wing’ or ‘The American President’


Unlike the other items on this list, these two are about fictional presidents. But it would be nice if they were real. Of the many politically charged movies and television shows by Aaron Sorkin, these two are specifically about presidents. If you have the day off and want to attempt to binge watch seven seasons, then you may want to check out The West Wing. The West Wing follows President Bartlet and his staff and advisors during their time in the White House. If you want a movie to help you transition between Valentine’s Day and President’s Day then The American President is worth watching. It is a romantic comedy about President Shepherd, who falls in love with a lobbyist.

How else will you celebrate President’s Day?

The first two cast members for Disney’s live-action adaptation of The Lion King have been announced by director Jon Favreau.

James Earl Jones, who voiced Mufasa in the animated movie in the ’90s, is returning as the character in the live-action adaptation. Interesting!

Meanwhile, Donald Glover — who will co-star in this summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming for Disney and Marvel — will play Adult Simba.

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The first two cast members for Disney’s live-action adaptation of The Lion King have been announced by director Jon Favreau.

James Earl Jones, who voiced Mufasa in the animated movie in the ’90s, is returning as the character in the live-action adaptation. Interesting!

Meanwhile, Donald Glover — who will co-star in this summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming for Disney and Marvel — will play Adult Simba.

Favreau tweeted the news Friday evening:

According to a statement from Disney, The Lion King “will build on the groundbreaking technology used in The Jungle Book to bring the story of Simba to photorealistic life.”

A release date for the film hasn’t been set. Favreau also helmed the live-action Jungle Book for the studio.

So far casting is off to a great start!