15 Songs, 1 Hour 1 Minute

EDITORS’ NOTES

The songs on Snow Patrol’s sixth studio album didn’t come easy. While working on Fallen Empires, frontman Gary Lightbody grappled with writer’s block (which R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe helped him overcome). Still, you’d be hard-pressed to tell this from the flowing opener, “I'll Never Let Go”—a winsome tune with a pulsing, Vangelis-inspired intro that reveals a move toward classic electro flourishes. By the chorus of the cool “Called Out in the Dark,” it’s evident that Snow Patrol is embracing a change in sound. With guitars upstaged by icy synthesizers, disco-tinged grooves, and sequenced beats, melancholy never sounded so smooth—especially when the chorus unfolds. The gradually ascending title track builds layers of acoustic trill with fluttering orchestration, but it’s the powerful “New York” that proves to be the album’s standout.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The songs on Snow Patrol’s sixth studio album didn’t come easy. While working on Fallen Empires, frontman Gary Lightbody grappled with writer’s block (which R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe helped him overcome). Still, you’d be hard-pressed to tell this from the flowing opener, “I'll Never Let Go”—a winsome tune with a pulsing, Vangelis-inspired intro that reveals a move toward classic electro flourishes. By the chorus of the cool “Called Out in the Dark,” it’s evident that Snow Patrol is embracing a change in sound. With guitars upstaged by icy synthesizers, disco-tinged grooves, and sequenced beats, melancholy never sounded so smooth—especially when the chorus unfolds. The gradually ascending title track builds layers of acoustic trill with fluttering orchestration, but it’s the powerful “New York” that proves to be the album’s standout.

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Ratings and Reviews

4.1 out of 5
1.1K Ratings
1.1K Ratings
E.P. Clark ,

Dark yet Uplifting, Heartfelt yet Mature--A great Album!

I think I'm a bit of an unusual SP fan in that I vaguely liked "Chasing Cars" but never really thought much of them until this album. And even this album took me a while to warm up to. I stumbled across the single "Called Out in the Dark" while streaming Finnish radio, as you do, and, well, it was just what I needed at what was a pretty tough time for me. I suppose it would be overly dramatic to say that it saved my life, but sometimes it felt like it. And so later I started listening to the whole album, which I sort of liked and sort of didn't, in part because in some weird way the lyrics sounded uncomfortably like someone had taken my secret diary (which I don't keep, and if I did it wouldn't have much in common with the actual events described in the album anyway) and set it to music. But I kept listening even so because something kept whispering to me that this was quality, this was the real deal, and eventually I decided that it was a great album and SP are one of the best bands currently performing.

So what's so great about this album anyway? At first listen it might seem a little incoherent, both thematically and musically. But that, my young Padawans, is only at first listen. At 101st listen one begins to realize that the lyrics are constantly playing with the themes of distance and closeness, connection and disconnection, self and other. From that perspective, the central song of the album, both physically (it is number 8 out of 15) and thematically is "Lifening," a song in which the lyrical hero lists his desires for various kinds of connection to others, while also situating himself within Ireland. From that central point the album appears to move out geographically--the song is flanked by "Berlin" and "New York," while more distant songs such as "I'll Never Let Go" and "The Symphony" refer to setting out on the open road and being lost in a "vast empire." The overall impression is one of covering enormous distances in order to find your center and remain unshaken in the face of all the slings and arrows that life keeps throwing at you, or possibly that you keep throwing at yourself. While maintaining much of the clever wordplay and heartfelt emotion of earlier albums (which I have since gone on to listen to and appreciate), "Fallen Empires" marks a shift to something darker and yet more mature, with an awareness of the speaker's position in space, time, and relation to others.

A chic? ,

Not great

These guys have definitely gone down hill a bit.

Mr. Only Extreme ,

Fallen Empires

It's decent, but I've heard a lot better.

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