Snow Patrol All ‘Fallen’ Down

Courtesy of Island Records

With a career spanning 14 years, U.K.-based musical group Snow Patrol is back with their sixth studio album, “Fallen Empires.” They have had their fair amount of ups and downs: from playing a gig in 2003 for just 18 people at a strip club in Wycombe, England to having sold over 10 million albums worldwide.

“Fallen Empires” is an amalgamation of new sounds, such as faster beats with a strong influence of electronic and techno instruments, but it still maintains Snow Patrol’s old trademark of being a completely organic album with all lyrics written by frontman and singer Gary Lightbody.

“I’ll Never Let Go” is the album’s first song and is rooted in electrical guitars, bass and keyboards. The song starts off on a good note with lyrics like, “And the vast empire you came through to get here / Makes the world look like pennies in my hand.” But the inclusion of American folk rock artist Lissie, a choir and the loudness of the instruments toward the end manage to make the song easily forgettable.

The next song, “Called Out in the Dark,” is another attempt to include stronger notes of electric guitar and bass. The band manages to infuse the electro and techno aspects correctly this time around. The result is a catchy, foot-tapping four and a half minutes.

“The Weight of Love” and “This Isn’t Everything You Are” fail to follow the standards set by the preceding song. Like the premier track, both of these have too much going on, which isn’t usually bad because it can show diversity. But Snow Patrol haven’t yet found the correct balance between the electrical instruments and the vocals (the choir singing is back) and the songs subsequently just jumble up into four to four and a half minutes of noisy music and repetitive lyrics talking about love, loss and nothing more.

The titular song, “Fallen Empires,” comes right in the middle of the 14-song album and sounds like an infusion of Irish folk and techno music. The song’s rhythm lies in the acoustic guitar played in the style of generic Irish folk music and a touch of electric bass gives it that something extra. If “Fallen Empires” does anything, it definitely breaks the darkness and gloom of the initial songs. And the chanting line of “we are the light” toward its end gives hope that the next songs may be better.

The album has two songs inspired by different cities. The first is “Berlin,” which follows “Fallen Empires.” The song is two minutes long and has no lyrics; instead, it forms a melodious tune with piano, drums, strings, electric guitar and ends with the xylophone. “Berlin” will have you humming along and will definitely be one of most played songs of the album.

The next is “New York,” a haunting melody of broken hearts and regrets: “There’s distance and there’s silence / Your words have never left me / They’re the prayer that I say every day.” Already featured in “Grey’s Anatomy,” I can definitely see “New York” being used on other shows and movies. The instruments heard range from the piano, percussion, string, wind instruments and the organ, all in harmonic balance.

The saving graces of “Fallen Empires” are the last two songs,  “The President” and “Broken Bottles From a Star (Prelude).” Not surprisingly, these songs originate from Snow Patrol’s safety net of alternative/indie rock and not the new style they were developing. “The President” is a slow song with a focus on vocals and the piano. “Broken Bottled From A Star” is a teaser for the next album and frankly sounds more promising than this one.

“Fallen Empires” seems to be made on shifting sands. Snow Patrol tries their hand at electronic and techno music, and this album proves that it is definitely not their forte. It is easily lost in the crowd and does not stand out.

Rating: 3 out of 5