Album Review

Snow Patrol "Fallen Empires"

Chad W. Lutz
Today’s music market is heavily flooded with songs and albums referring to the tough times everyone is facing. Some say music is a reflection of self, but I think it’s also true what Ghandi said in, “be the change you wish to see in the world.” While we’re still only talking music here, not many albums from popular artists over the last year touch on light-hearted or inspirational subject matter. While my former self of two years ago would hate me for writing this, Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory” and “Hair” are about the only two songs I can think of in pop culture that really touched on a positive and uplifting message.

While the new Snow Patrol album doesn’t come at you with heavy guitar, shrieking vocals, or fanfare from Mars, Fallen Empires, released November 11, 2011 on Fiction and Interscope records, is an uplifting and inspiring experience. From beginning to end I was impressed with the melodic relationship between lyric and sound. And without any real background in Snow Patrol’s catalogue other than the 2006 single “Chasing Cars” from the LP Eyes Open, I really didn’t know what to expect from the UK-based band.

The themes are simple and digestible in Fallen Empires. The band uses a subtle fuse of rock and a more synthesized dance club sound than in previous albums. I was actually kind of shocked as the first few notes of “I’ll Never Let Go” (4:43) came through my computer speakers sounding like the opening bars of chase scene music from Miami Vice. The same band who produced the teeny-bopper wonder in 2006 now claims a more diverse, if not adult, sound.

Throughout the 14-song LP, Fallen Empires explores themes of triumph and redemption in the face of adversity and oppression. Songs like “This Isn’t Everything You Are” (4:57), title track “Fallen Empires” (5:19), and “Lifening” (3:52) all lend to a move toward something bold and something better; the common and overarching theme of the album.

Snow Patrol is far from my favorite band, style of music, or genre. I can think of about 50 bands off the top of my head I would rather listen to short of beating my head against the wall for rhythm. That being said, and aside from the fact there is about as much going on in terms of groundbreaking sound or instrumentation as oompa music at the county fair, Snow Patrols does deliver something much unexpected in Fallen Empires, a fairly listenable album made possible by inspirational lyrics. This LP probably won’t go flying off the shelves in the same fashion Eyes Open did, but Fallen Empires should prove to be a step in the right direction for the band from Dundee, Scotland. And it’s definitely worth the listen if you’re in need of an audible pick-me-up.