With zero context, Coldplay have released a new song, “Midnight.”
The group has yet to announce a new album or any other release for 2014, and their only concert on the calendar so far is an appearance during South by Southwest. Instead, they simply tweeted that “something new” would happen at midnight in the time zone local to Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia – and now that they have released the video for “Midnight,” it seems even more shrouded in mystery.
The clip is dark and chilly, full of black-and-white photo-negative images and what looks like heat-sensitive silhouettes of Coldplay’s members ambling through a forest. The song itself is just as chilly.
A far cry from the anthemic chorus of their most recent track, “Atlas,” which doubled as their contribution to the Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack, “Midnight” is one of the group’s most understated singles. For four minutes, the band maintains a slow pulse highlighted by shimmering synthesizers that have more in common with downtempo EDM than Coldplay’s piano rock.
Frontman Chris Martin intones heavily affected vocals that, at times, resemble early Nineties Peter Gabriel as he sings about darkness, while the synths build throughout the track before a skittery, rave-like keyboard line flits about noisy static.
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The track closes with Martin asking that a light be left on. Maybe somewhere deep within the effects-heavy murk of his more incoherent lyrics is something that explains just why the song came out at a time local to Ulaanbaatar.