I've never been much for Coldplay in either their arena bombast or overly earnest modes, but I'm a total sucker for their quiet ballads, and this is their best. It's stripped down to almost nothing - a guitar riff that stretches out like a telescope, backed by slow, expansive keys. It's not until the final moments that anyone even remembers percussion is a thing.
And it works wonderfully, not just on its own terms, but in how it meshes with the song's story; a sad tale about a friend no-one in your social circle ever talks to anymore. Pretty much all of us must have been here; watching someone once loved at ever-greater distances as they drift away, or as they cut ties one by one in a seemingly calculated campaign of unprovoked viciousness. Watching as they coat themselves in more and more layers of armour for an attack they're convinced is coming, and thereby blocking out anyone who still cares. You still see them around, but as observers, watching someone who once meant the world to you pass by on the other side of the street, their gaze studiously avoiding yours.
The overall sense is one of space and distance, a story of old wounds that still ache from time to time. Martin sums the situation up early on:
Don't break your back if you ever see this.Yes, this song is about how we used to be friends. We're not any more. Don't @ me. This isn't reconciliation. It's pathology set to music.
Don't answer that.
It just happens to be beautiful, too.