When Coldplay released their album Mylo Xyloto, it raised concerns among some long-time fans that the band might be getting too “poppy” for their own good. Last fall, their song “Atlas” from the Hunger Games: Catching Fire Soundtrack was a breath of fresh air, a clear step back toward their brooding, piano-rock roots. Now, with the surprise release of their new single “Midnight”…well, let’s just say a lot of us are left scratching our heads in confusion.
Don’t get me wrong—the track is cool, in more ways than one. It just doesn’t sound much like the Coldplay we (think we) know. Far from the sound of “Atlas,” this song is a nearly-pure slice of chilly electronica, almost completely synth-driven, with Chris Martin’s effected vocal harmonies sounding like a hybrid between Bon Iver and Imogen Heap. The only thing that seems Coldplay-ish about this track, really, is its moodiness. “Midnight” rambles and pulses slowly and repetitively through more than five minutes, waiting until the 3-minute mark before building only slightly in intensity. The accompanying video features dark, night-vision images of the band in a forest, along with what looks like a wolf (or it could be a fox, but…naw, that would just be too weird).
Coldplay is supposed to be on hiatus, but they’ve scheduled a one-off performance at this year’s SXSW in Autin, TX, at the premiere of the iTunes Festival. They’re also rumored to be working on new material in the studio, sparking speculation that “Midnight” is part of a new recording project. True to form, however, the band are staying pretty tight-lipped about things, their movements shrouded in mystery—not unlike the track they just released. Maybe that’s the point.
At the very least, they’re staying on the radar, and getting people talking. Take a look at the video and see what you think.