I have felt it … and it seems many others have too.
The sense that we know too much, too soon and for too long before it appears in this digital age.
That all the fun, the element of surprise has disappeared in a world where we have teaser trailers for the teaser trailer and where song titles are hinted at and dissected for meaning long before they can listened to.
Into that ennui-laden number you can now add one of the world’s supergroups, Coldplay, who did their own out-of-the-blue bid to combat it (rather like Beyoncé did recently with her latest album) by releasing a song called, rather appropriately “Midnight”, with the following deliciously cryptic tweet (around 10pm Australian time last night):
It was the sort of tweet that lent itself to a major announcement – either of a new song or project, possibly a hitherto undisclosed passion for yurts and the finer points of Mongolian culture – but with Coldplay largely quiet on the release front, save for the anthemic stirrings of “Atlas” which was the group’s contribution to the Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack, and no song rumours in the digital ether, the mind did not immediately race to NEW SONG.
But here it is, and in a stroke of quirky marketing that speaks to a band wanting to mix things up a little or a lot.
Certainly the song’s sound is a marked departure from their more recent output, particularly 2011’s stadium-esque Mylo Xyloto, which thundered and shimmered in a thousand gloriously wonderful “Look at me” ways.
Taking a page out of U2’s book and making it their own, Mylo Xyloto was an album that demanded to be noticed and rightly so, a collection of some of their finest songs to date.
But “Midnight”, which comes complete with an atmospheric clip that features the band members in negative wandering throughout a darkened forest, is a far gentler affair, an exquisitely beautiful track of minimalist electronica and hushed, almost reticent vocals from Chris Martin.
It is, in the words of Rolling Stone, “a slow pulse highlighted by shimmering synthesizers that have more in common with downtempo EDM than Coldplay’s piano rock.”
It is captivatingly intimate, one of those songs that draws you in like an intimate conversation between old and dear close friends, it’s stripped back sound that gradually builds throughout but only slightly, feeling like a balm for the soul, its melody entrancing, its lyrics poignantly pleading (“Leave a light, a light on”).
It is a thing of beauty, the kind of unexpected creative leap that gives you faith that Coldplay haven’t done experimenting with what they’re capable of just yet.
While the reaction to the song from fans has reportedly been mixed, I am thrilled that, like Bombay Bicycle Club before them, Coldplay have decided to see what can happen when they ditch what’s expected and pull a musical rabbit, a very good musical rabbit at that, out of the hat.