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Don't Expect Always Soaring. Do Expect Snow Patrol.,
This review is from: Fallen Empires (Audio CD)Snow Patrol started out as a shuffling indie rag-tag bunch, fronted by angelically voiced Mr Lightbody, who didn't seem like they had even the beginnings of the sort of stereoscopic chorus they latterly become famous for, in them. They also struggled to sell records, to say the least.
Then, the band changed record companies and along came the stratospheric written-in-a-bedsit single "Run" with it's widescreen, front-man humbling singalong chorus and the world became SP's oyster, album after album.
Which brings us to their latest offering, "Fallen Empires" which sees the band leave some of the massive choruses behind to return to their shuffling indie upstart days.
The album begins with "I'll Never Let Go" and it's driving synth bass line - sounding very much like the Snow Patrol of old, in-congruent lyrics and all, until the woah-woah chorus kicks in and we're back in familiar stadium-filling turf. Standard single "Call Out In The Dark" follows with it's vague hints of electronica and typical earnest Lightbody lyric. Similarly "This Isn't Everything You Are" could have fitted right in on any of Snow Patrol's recent offerings; earnest, Lightbody lyric? Check. Big crescendo leading to the chorus? Check. Hit single? Check.
"The Weight Of Love", "The Garden Rules", "Berlin" and "Those Distant Bells" meander pleasantly enough but underpin the fact that when Snow Patrol leave the big choruses behind and revert to the band of old, they never really get going. Each track is calling out for some presence, some building emotional power. Whilst all are pleasant enough and definitely listenable they're just not what people will expect or want (hence some of the forming negative reviews here I think). The same could be said for the other tracks on the album; sometimes they just leave you wanting more - they don't seem to go anywhere.
Album saving graces though, singles aside, are the manically strummed title track and the beautiful "New York" with it's pleading chorus and soaring strings.
All in all then by reverting to a less commercial, Snow Patrol of old sound on some of the tracks the Snowies will alienate some of their latter fans who are only in it for the choruses. But similarly, an album filled with commercial crowd pleasers would have further turned off their hardcore fan base already accusing the band of "selling out".
So, commercially and critically they're damned if they do and damned if they don't.
But this shouldn't detract from this coherent offering of fine, sensitive songs, if not with a fair few that leave you wanting more. Ultimately it's the sound of a band finally enjoying their success and letting themselves breathe a little.