Free shows, free single — Coldplay is just feeling so free right now! Well, that single will only be free for another few days, so you’d better head to their website and snap it up while you still can. Of course, I filled out their form a couple days ago, twice, and I have yet to receive the magical email bearing “Violet Hill” in either my work or personal inbox… but assuming you can get your mitts on an MP3, what will you be getting into?

First off, Brian Eno’s production has done these guys well. “Violet Hill” opens with a thin synth wash that’s very Music for Airports, and proceeds from there to some droning, stabbing guitar textures that sound cooler than most any Coldplay tunes I can think of. Still, the songcraft itself feels lacking. The melody’s fine, if nothing special; I can accept that Chris Martin may have spent up all his truly indelible melodies on the band’s first few albums. But those lyrics! Surely even he knows how clunky the words he’s singing these days are. (Forcing a slant-rhyme out of “December” and “cathedrals”? For real?)

Then again, Gwyneth thinks the whole album is “brilliant.” And who am I to argue with her? You tell me — am I the only one left a little, er, cold by playing “Violet Hill”? And while we’re at it, can anyone figure out what’s up with that bizarre, Delacroix-jacking cover art?

addCredit(“Chris Martin; Jonathan Drake/”)