Fallen, No. Teetering, Possibly: Snow Patrol ‘s Fallen Empires
By Charissa Lock @charissalock
When I think of Snow Patrol, the first thing that comes to mind is “Chasing Cars” and Gary Lightbody lying peacefully on the ground in the middle of the street and other inconvenient and chaotic places. This meditative reaction (shown by vocals) to a fast-paced and intricate world (the instrumentation and musical arrangements) is how you will want to think of Snow Patrol when listening to Fallen Empires.
In their sixth studio release (not counting their compilation), Fallen Empires shows that the band has moved slightly in their musical direction since their last album A Hundred Million Suns (2008), but more-so from their popular 2006 Eyes Open release. Sadly, the last shift went more towards the quiet side that was heard on their latest album and they seem to have lost their energy. There are some things that certain bands can do that others cannot. I am unsure if Snow Patrol can go with this softer reflective sound, since there is something that hinders them from being completely successful at it (“Called Out In The Dark,” for example). There is a certain vigor that they left out on this album and replaced it with trying to be more techno and spacey. I want Snow Patrol to go back, because I think with that energy, this album would be monumental. Don’t’ get me wrong, there are some good tunes on Fallen Empires and the more I listen to the album – I enjoy it a bit more each time. Still, there is this sense of….almost there, but not quite, that I continue to feel.
There are a few tracks that could appear on their older albums (though would probably not be the most popular), such as “This Isn’t Everything You Are,” which starts off slow but by the second Chorus it holds a lot of power in it (still struggling with the lyrics “Don’t keel over”…really?). Another classic is “In The End,” it does not quite get the “Make This Go On” build-up, but it does have a lot going on and is a foot tapper. The slower tempo tracks are really well done (“Lifelong,” “President”) having soothing melodies, background violins, and lyrics carrying a meaningful perspective on looking back on life.
Two of my favorites happen to be instrumental (or without words besides “La, la. La-la-la”), which show their instrumentation and arrangements were able to go in a different direction and give the energy that everything else is lacking. “Berlin” is an amazing song, and I really wish there were words to it, besides “la’s,” but then again, maybe I don’t. A part of me is waiting for a break in the repetition and for it to ‘go somewhere,’ but another part of me points out that the song does grow and retracts and this movement is all it needs to be captivating. That part of me usually wins and I find myself noting that it is one of my favorites (like I did here). The next instrumental is “Broken Bottles From a Star (Prelude)” and is my second thumbs-up song. There is a lot going on and being able to catch the smallest violin picks, the pause and re-introduction to the piano, it is all beautifully done. Of course, it is only one minute and thirty seconds long.
If you are not very familiar with Snow Patrol, I would say this album will be quite enjoyable for you and you will find great moments within it. However, being a Snow Patrol fan, I am a bit disappointed when comparing it to the other albums. I think if you’re going to try to take out heavy distorted guitars (and of course I’m thinking Eyes Open), you should be able to come up with the energy from somewhere else to replace it. Unless you want to create something that is so “deep” that being in dark, empty room tripping on shrooms is the only way to enjoy it (I haven’t tried this yet, so I can’t say for certain). Fallen Empires comes close to being a really good album, but sadly comes up short and I’m desperately hoping they go back to amplified guitars or can at least find their missing power on their next one.