Sometimes an album is released and you are immediately drawn into every song right out of the gate. One song melds into the next and you find yourself tapping your foot or bopping your head, picking up on choruses immediately and singing along. Those albums become your “go to” picks, the ones you play in the car on a regular basis; they’re fast friends. Other albums take some time getting used to. You know the artists, are familiar with their work, excited for their new release, but upon first listen you find yourself scratching your head and saying, “hmmm?” It’s not necessarily a bad head scratch, but more of a realization that you’re going to need to take your time with the album. Let it court you. Such is the case with Snow Patrol’s newest release, ‘Fallen Empires.’
‘Fallen Empires’ is the album you need to date a bit before committing to, but after a couple of turns around the town you realize it’s gotten to you in a very good way. The Irish/Scottish quintet are not novices in the music industry as ‘Fallen Empires’ is their sixth studio release, yet the band has taken on a bit of something new with this album offering new layers and on several songs a beat where a club techno remix would not be out of the question. It is fair to say that ‘Fallen Empires’ displays prominent drums, and drummer Jonny Quinn holds the entire album together, sometimes subtly, but more often than not, in a beautiful in your face type of way. There is also no denying the lyricism and voice of singer Gary Lightbody. The man could read the most boring of documents aloud and his buttery voice would hold the rapt attention of anyone listening. The rest of the band, guitarist Nathan Connolly, bassist Paul Wilson, and keyboardist Tom Simpson work together bringing about both stadium rocking riffs mixed with synth and drums, to sometimes tiny musical nuances, a guitar strum here, a piano chord there, which truly bring life and depth to the songs on this album.
Snow Patrol’s Called Out In The Dark
The album’s first single, “Called Out In the Dark,” leads with a strong and steady bass line and the drum tempo is perfect for a dance club, preferably one with techno strobe lights. After getting down on the dance floor, take time to listen to the lyrics, the chorus intones, “We are listening/And we’re not blind/This is your life/This is your time.” Pretty inspiring message for a person to get out and do something, you know, coming from a dance track and all.
The title track, “Fallen Empires,” is undoubtedly an intense song. As the sixth track of the album, one may listen to this song and think, “Why bury this gem in the middle of the record? This would be a great opening track.” The timing on the lead guitar and drums is fast, but the speed of the actual song is more of a slow building chant, providing an interesting juxtaposition of music and lyrics. There is a dark atmosphere to this song, “Razing cities to dust/faces dripping in lust/Fallen empires and raging bushfires,” that poetically captures frenzy, desperation, and human tendencies in an unfiltered light.
Most, if not all of the songs on ‘Fallen Empires’ are driven by human experience. A bittersweet and melodic contrast to some of the darker driving tracks is the song, “New York.” According to Gary Lightbody on the band’s website, the song is about a missed opportunity with a woman he was seeing in New York. The song begins with only with keys and builds into full-bodied symphonic arrangement. The lyrics are sweet, wistful, and sad: “Though there’s distance and there’s silence/Your words have never left me/They’re the prayer I say every day,” just the way the words of a proper love song should be.
Although ‘Fallen Empires’ may take a bit of time to grow on you, grow on you it will. Blazing guitar riffs mixed with synth, bass, and some fervent drum playing are the perfect platform for techno dance numbers as well as poppy ballads. The lyrics and warm vocals of Lightbody round out Snow Patrol’s dynamic and presents a listener with an overall musical experience, full, at times, of thought, introspection, and emotion. Let this album play awhile and give ‘Fallen Empires’ a chance to woo you, you won’t be sorry.
Written by Linda Turk