By the time Tuesday morning (April 29) rolls around, you’re going to know what we’re talking about.
That’s when Coldplay will post “Violet Hill” — the first single from their upcoming Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends album — on their official Web site for free download. (It’s scheduled to happen at exactly 7:15 a.m. ET, FYI.) The move is rare for a band of such stature, not to mention a band of such major-label-tude. And while we applaud such forward thinking, we’re also figuring that most Coldplay fans don’t want to wait until Tuesday morning to climb “Violet Hill,” so we’re going to give you a preview right now.
And no, we haven’t swung some sort of streaming deal with Capitol Records. Rather, this is a written preview of the track, which MTV News was lucky enough to hear last week — along with the rest of Viva — at the EMI headquarters here in New York. We’re not allowed to write about the entire album just yet (suffice to say security is tight on this one), but we figured the time was right to dish some details about “Hill.”
And while we realize that reading about a song doesn’t compare to actually hearing it, what else are you gonna do for the next 15-odd hours?
“Violet Hill” opens with the barely there bubbles of synthesizer-and-guitar fuzz, a quiet clamor that starts off down a dark hallway, then slowly fills the open space, building into a wall of gauzy, all-encompassing white noise (that’s a common theme on Viva) that grows to massive — yet minimal — proportions (that’s another theme) before being punctured by frontman Chris Martin’s winsome falsetto recalling “a long and dark December/ From the rooftops I remember there was snow.”
From there, the song suddenly shifts from spacey to stomping, thanks to some muscular guitar and piano chords. It’s a startling change — and a powerful pounding — that recalls both the opening moments of “Politik” (from 2002’s A Rush of Blood to the Head) and some of Queen’s more theatrically garish moments. That momentum builds and builds until guitarist Jonny Buckland throws in a curling solo that coasts into a smoother, sexier and, dare we say, Maroon 5-esque midsection, complete with Martin crooning “If you loved me/ Why’d you let me go?”
The breakneck shifts don’t stop there, as the band pick things back up — more of that pounding again — before the entire wall of noise falls away, and all we’re left with is Martin and his piano, his voice hushed and breathy, as he pleads once more to his (presumably absent) lover, “If you love me/ Won’t you let me know.” (Cue those tabloid rumors!) Then the song comes to an end, as quietly as it began.
Again, we’re not allowed to write much about Viva la Vida yet, but we can tell you that if you like “Violet Hill,” well, then you’re gonna love the album. If you hate it, well, you’ll still probably love the album. “Hill” is strongly indicative of the breadth of song structures you’ll hear on the Brian Eno-produced album , and at the same time, it’s unlike anything else on the album, which is a decidedly atmospheric (yet organic) affair. Confused? You ain’t heard nothin’ yet.