Review Summary: This isn't everything they are
As a crappy album, Fallen Empires
hurts all the more because it actually manages to hurt loyal ol' me, and a few Irish people, as a fan
of Snow Patrol. Last time I listened to their discography the anthemic-ballad machine of a band never did that before. Ever.
Last outing A Hundred Million Suns
was kinda experimental and a little odd and whimsical, sure. But it was still Snow Patrol through and through, and many fans even like it now after its initial mixed reception: “Crack the Shutters”, “If There's a Rocket Tie Me to It”, and “The Planets Bend Between Us” (single remix, mind you) were all the same sound of the band that gave us and our then-sweethearts at the time the stellar commercial success that was 2006's Eyes Open
Which was itself an album that took traces of Snow Patrol's blast-for-the-bleachers hit “Run” and more or less just re-wrote that formula eleven times over. But what a formula that was: replay-ably fresh and sincere. Eyes Open
was nothing short of being the balls of a sensitive man getting laid for the second, or first, time: hmm, cozy
Do you know what you get with Fallen Empires
, though? A laughable attempt at a shameless radio-staple band trying to be the next Arcade Fire
. And failing miserably, too. Early proclamations from the band said this thing would run with such legendary albums like U2
's Actung Baby
, LCD Soundsystem
's Sound of Silver
, and, what do you know, Arcade Fire
's The Suburbs
. Just read what frontman Gary Lightbody said about it himself: “Arcade Fire's last record (The Suburbs
) made us realise that we had to up our game. . . . We decided that we wanted to make a record unlike any other we've made before.”
Though Lightbody's true intentions for Snow Patrol prove false, incredibly false, he is right about one thing: Fallen Empires
is unlike any album that the band has made before. This is almost as concise and as quality of a listen as you might get from Emmure
. We get a messy glob of shameful assenting female vocals with Lightbody's own Irish croon (“I'll Never Let Go” and “Weight of Love”), and we even get Sufjan Steven
half-ass instrumental jibes back when the eccentric songwriting gave a care about The States (“Berlin”). But where are the melodies, though?
Nowhere, because it's just offense after offense for this thing all the way through. Elsewhere, in first single “Called Out in the Dark” we find a rock-ish band tinkering with electronics, but coming out of that venture with embarrassing results that happen to be the opposite of what Radiohead
got twelve years ago. “The Garden Rules” prides itself on being an indicator of just how boring the band can be and how Lightbody should never tell listeners stories about his past. And “The President” screams itself silly with acoustics and piano as being no more than a copied remake of “The Planets Bend Between Us” (first edition, from the band's 2008 outing).
Speaking of which, copying has always been one of Snow Patrol's strengths; you know, with Eyes Open
being “Run” remixed, A Hundred Million Suns
having contained a few remixes of that prior album, yada yada yada, like I said earlier. A sad strength, but it's a strength nonetheless. The one time Snow Patrol get the copying thing right here, though, is in second single “This Isn't Everything You Are”. Lightbody swings for the fences, and Snow Patrol actually do the only thing they can actually do well: make fu
cking sensitive anthems.
They try the same in the pleadingly sick and saccharine “New York”, a ballad of an Irish guy serenading a love that's an ocean away, and the retrospective take “Lifening”. Lightbody's singing, “This is all I ever wanted from life,” in the latter becomes unbearable funny and is hard to take seriously as it's from a song on Snow Patrol's worst album since having become relevant (to me and Grey's Anatomy
, that is).
fails the critics, again, fails the naysayers, again, and actually fails the fans. Which amounts to it being a wondering failure of a mess, the sum of its parts playing out like an hour-plus extended edition of the “lol”-worthy “The Symphony”. Dub-y beats, horns, cringe-y melodies and harmonies, electronics, and just all around awful songs – night-time dramas are going to have one hell of a time bringing us to tears with this shi
t in the coming year. For fans, though, the tears are bound to start falling. Fallen Empires