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Track Review

When darkness lingers too long, our hearts yearn for light.

That's the essence—and almost the entirety, actually—of the message delivered on Coldplay's "Midnight," an ambient, ethereal exploration clad in somber, subdued synthesizers as Chris Martin's disembodied falsetto floats above.

What it isn't? Pop, rock or even electronic dance music as it's practiced these days—or as Coldplay itself has delivered those styles in the past. Instead, Chris & Co. sound like they were tasked with creating a soundscape to accompany some forgotten story about ghostly, windswept places—places where you desperately want the sun to rise and find yourself counting the minutes until it does.

"In the darkness before the dawn," Martin begins, sounding for all the world like Peter Gabriel's long-lost brother. "In the swirling of this storm/When I'm rolling with the punches/And hope is gone/Leave a light, a light on."

Part plea, part prayer, this plaintive request paints the picture of a man struggling just to hold on. But while he says hope is gone, he apparently clings to just enough of it to imagine a better place, a sanctuary amid the storm that breaks around him.

"Millions of miles from home/In the swirling, swimming on/When I'm rolling with the thunder/But bleed from the thorns/Leave a light, a light on."

Listening to Coldplay reach up toward the warmth from that chilly, dim place, it's not a big leap to superimpose those cries for light and home against the recent news that Martin and his wife of 10 years, actress Gwyneth Paltrow, are calling it quits. Indeed, the song's depiction of clinging darkness and lurking storms evokes a sense of vulnerability, loss and bewilderment, the kinds of emotions most of us have faced at some point in our lives when a once-cherished relationship disintegrates.

In the video, Chris Martin and his bandmates navigate the ominous wilderness they find themselves traversing. It's a spare and artsy visual representation of the song's lonely lyrical journey through blackness that has not yet abated—but hopefully will soon enough.

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April 19, 2014

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Adam R. Holz

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