Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tuesday Listening - Snow Patrol

Some people prefer music that is heartfelt and upbeat, uplifting and optimistic.  For the rest of us, there is Snow Patrol - a band who's music more often than not leans to a darker side- in a place where the music speaks to heartbreak, hurt and loneliness.

Snow Patrol (Gary Lightbody on lead vocals, Nathan Connolly on lead guitar, bassist Paul Wilson, Jonny Quinn on drums and Tom Simpson on keyboards) released their new album, Fallen Empires, on January 10th in the US.  Admittedly taking note of Arcade Fire's The Suburbs and its bigger, more robust sound, the band set out to make an album that was different from any of their previous albums.  The result is an album that is much harder, more electronic, industrial and larger sounding than previous albums- and definitely a big step from songs of the "Chasing Cars" nature.   Snow Patrol purists will find solace in songs like "Out in the Dark" which are still along the veins of what Snow Patrol fans became used to on albums in the mid-2000's.  But there are now defiantly anthematic songs like "The Weight of Love" and the title track of the album "Fallen Empires" with its hard synth sounds and driving beats.  The album can feel disjointed at times, jumping from these hard beats into a softer more "Snow Patrol-y" sound but somehow, it works.  And often, it works because of Gary Lightbody's lyrics.

With days of liner notes long gone, lyrics can get lost in songs - but this album forces attention on the lyrical brilliance of each song, in particular the stellar, standout "This Isn't Everything You Are", the second single released off the album.  At first listen to the lyrics it brings to mind someone who desperately needs to let go of a toxic relationship: "Feels like you loved him more than he loved you, and you wish you'd never met".  The simple repetition of the words in the chorus "Don't keel over, don't keel over now" relay the simple image of someone unable to hold on.  At the peak of this sensation comes the final verse, when it becomes clear in the lyrics this song is also about much more: "When you took the call/how could you know/that he'd slipped away last night/and you wish you went home/days ago/to say goodbye or just hello".  Then, they pull off a lighter tone with lyrics in "Life-ning", a track that calls out the simple things he wants in life: kids, Ireland in the World Cup.

Overall, this album is bigger, broader, grander - but they do so without losing the simple greatness that is Snow Patrol, with their ability to pick at certain emotions that live inside everyone at one time or another in our lives.  Some songs stay safely in the territory of evoking where the band is from (Northern Ireland, Glasgow) and its sad grey skies, while some are different from this entirely.  The idea of evoking these places on previous albums lent itself to their sound, which could be partially responsible for the changes in sound on this album as the album was recorded entirely in California.   Not just anywhere, either - but some of the hottest, sunniest, happiest places in California- Joshua Tree National Park, Malibu, Topanga Canyon.  Its a strange thought to imagine songs of this nature being created in a place with a quite literally sunny disposition.

Unfortunately, Snow Patrol has decided to join the ranks of a few other recent releases (like Coldplay's Mylo Xyloto) by not allowing this album initially available on streaming services like Spotify and MOG, but you can purchase on iTunes to add it to your collection.  And with an album as full and well rounded as this, its worth it.
Fallen Empires - Snow Patrol

More of the RS acoustic set and interview HERE.

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