Before listening to this album, I tried remembering why Snow Patrol didn’t explode over here like they did overseas. Their one mega U.S. hit, “Chasing Cars” took over mainstream radio stations for months (still gets played today). However, due to rapid repetition, that song quickly lost it’s luster. Their next single was their song “Signal Fire,” which was featured on the Spiderman 3 soundtrack. Now, I’m in no way saying that Peter Parker’s last movie killed the momentum that Snow Patrol had over here, but I’m sure that it didn’t help much.
That hasn’t stopped the Irish alt-rock quintet from putting out new music though. Since then, Snow Patrol has released two more albums, including this year’s Fallen Empires. Although I commend Snow Patrol for almost an hour of decent pop-rock, nothing here is really stretching their musical limits.
The first two tracks, “I’ll Never Let Go” and “Called Out In The Dark,” feature a large presence of the ever growing musical trend of electronic textures and influences. The former of these two tracks sounds overproduced, “Called Out In The Dark” is actually a great piece of pop music, something that I think will catch on to the American public sooner rather than later. “In The End” is another rather up-beat song, though it falls flat in it’s delivery, while the title track is a racing rock track that builds and builds into a pretty anticlimactic sing-along towards the end of the song.
Other than those rather upbeat pop songs, the rest of the album has an incredible feeling of melancholy, which gets incredibly repetitive after the first listen through. I originally loved “Lifening” until I looked closely to what lead singer Gary Lightbody was singing. He lists things that he ever wanted from his life, including seeing Ireland in the World Cup and “words of reassurance.” This song is a perfect example of lazy songwriting, and at the same time sums up most of the record’s slower tracks. Each feels the same, with no grand moments that would make me love Snow Patrol. Instead, the majority of Fallen Empires made me think of other bands that could have done it better.
Two songs on here that deserve a lot more than they got were “Berlin” and “Broken Bottles For A Star (Prelude).” Both could have made into some epic songs that would turn this album around each time. However, “Berlin” is just an interlude where Lightbody just la-la-las through the entire two minutes. “Broken Bottles” was a beautiful conclusion to the album (though calling it a “prelude” might be a little bit off since it was the last song on the album), which is just a small, one minute instrumental. I feel that they could have taken that song, added some good vocals to it, and stretched it out into a four minute song (like most of this album is), it might have been the best song on here. However, they didn’t.
Fallen Empires isn’t bad, nor would I necessarily call it good. Snow Patrol really know how to encapsulate the tone of melancholy into whatever they do, which creates a decent listening experience. However, after listening to it once, I probably won’t reach for it for a while. There are plenty of songs here to throw onto a mixtape somewhere in the future, but nothing on here is as good as their only U.S. hit.
Final Grade: C-
Go Download: “Called Out In The Dark”