Published Apr 29, 2008From the announcement of the album's title to the recent unveiling of the artwork, it appears something funny has been in Coldplay's drinking water.
It has to be said that Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends (out June 17) is a ridiculous name for an album. Yes, everyone will be shaking their bonbons when they speak it, even Chris Martin, who's admitted so to the BBC. Translated as "long live life" with a nonsensical add-on, it shows they're still shooting to uplift, but perhaps the even bolder choice in using Eugène Delacroix's La Liberté guidant le peuple ("Liberty Leading the People") demonstrates their desire to break from what we've come to expect from Britain's biggest band.
Joining the ranks of big name artists using the web to premiere tuneage (Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, you all know that!), Martin and co. have chosen to give fans a sneak peek by giving away "Violet Hill" on the band's website.
With the new album being described by the band as "much more abstract, much more visual than before," and produced by Brian Eno with Markus Dravs (who helped mix Arcade Fire's Neon Bible), expectations should be very high for Coldplay to break out of their self-proclaimed "soft rock" bubble...
But "Violet Hill" isn't exactly what anyone was expecting - nor hoping for. It also isn't the tour-de-force number destined to grace the speakers of Loblaws for months on end that we all imagined it would be. Aside from the Music For Airports-like first 40 seconds, the song - which I can't possibly believe is their first single - is pretty damn far from "abstract" or to be blunt, any good.
For the rest of it, Martin hammers the piano without drawing any emotion, Guy Berryman and Will Champion pound out a pretty obvious and shockingly jock-ish rhythm and most disappointing of all, Jonny Buckland's guitar crackles and drones but without the usual impact, and unfortunately, with a solo (at the 2:18 mark) that sounds lifted straight from a high school band covering the White Stripes.
Perhaps Martin describes it best when he repeatedly pleads: "If you love me, why'd you let me go?" Well, there's this song, for one... It's not hard to see why they're giving this away for free. Which reminds me, you can download it here until about this time next Tuesday. (And yes, you must register first to get your MP3.)