It’s happened – Coldplay have finally made the dive into icy electronic experimentalism they’ve long threatened to. A brand new track ‘Midnight’ – expected to appear on their sixth studio album, rumoured for release later this year – appeared online today (February 25), trading their usual stadium histrionics for fluttering synths and a cool autotuned croon from Chris Martin. It whispers in and out of focus like breath on a crisp wintry morning, rightly drawing comparison to Bon Iver.
The suspicion is, were this a new Justin Vernon single, the internet would be losing its collective shit right now. Featuring production from Mercury Prize nominee Jon Hopkins, who reigns in the warped electronic blitz of his solo work for something sparser here, it’s the sound of an arena-dwelling band who’ve flirted with a darker, button-pushing future finally going for it with both feet. The band themselves have admitted they’d previously worried too much about the response – Chris Martin referred to having a “suicidal” fear fans would turn on him after the dimly more experimental ‘Mylo Xyloto’, produced by Brian Eno, in a 2011 interview.
Now, they’ve finally thrown those shackles off. Where the future lies for Coldplay – whether ‘Midnight”s more out-there sonics will spill out into the rest of their new material, and whether their new album will prove enough of a departure for those who lump them in with ‘safe’ BBC Radio 2 fodder, I don’t know – but for the first time in a while when it comes to Chris Martin and co, I’m really excited to find out.