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I am lucky enough to know this band personally. I have met them many many times and they helped me overcome a serious illness a few years ago. They are lovely LOVELY people.
Anyway, to the review:
This album is exceptional in terms of quality. It is extremely well produced and executed. It's a major step up from A Hundred Million Suns and shows what Gary Lightbody stands for - a major frontman and an impressive songwriter. All the songs on this album have meaning - they have feelings. Snow Patrol are said to be at their best when they're singing about misery. I have to disagree. Some of the songs on this album are slow - yes - but it doesn't mean that they're miserable. In The End is a belter of a song. It starts off slow, enters beautiful verses and delivers with it's smashing chorus. This is no miserable song.
This Isn't Everything You Are is another beautiful Snow Patrol ballad. They mention death, love, life and loss in ONE song. This song is full of emotion and it made my mum cry when we heard it sung live last week. Called Out In The Dark is something a little different, although you can tell that it's Snow Patrol almost straight away. A good choice for a first single though. Again, it's not miserable - check out the cheeky promo video that goes with it!
The rest of the album is typical Snow Patrol with indie beats, great guitar riffs from Nathan and gorgeous soft vocals from Gary. Jonny bangs the drums harder than ever here and there's a darker side of Snow Patrol that shows on this album. The eagle on the album represents it well - freedom and power.
Snow Patrol put their hearts, their souls and their lives into their music. I challenge you not to be moved by this album. It's a masterpiece from start to finish and an album that will surely go down in history.
Fallen Empires - Snow Patrol - buy it!
Fallen Empires is Snow Patrol's 6th studio album and a much-anticipated one, as it was widely reported that singer/songwriter Gary Lightbody had been suffering a 3 month period of writer's block whilst trying to write songs for the album.
Gary himself admits to often feeling pessimistic despite knowing how fortunate he is and whilst knowing that his 'sun will come out again' eventually, this didn't help when a bout of depression manifested itself as writer's block and Gary turned to friend and REM frontman Michael Stipe, for advice.
Gary asked Michael to listen through the songs he'd written before the writer's block and felt very nervous about him doing so as Michael is very forthright. However, Michael had lots of positive things to say and his advice for the writer's block was ... to write! This sounded ridiculous at first to Gary as he felt he couldn't do this, but Michael told him he must write and draw poison from the wound.
So, Gary put pen to paper and as a result 'Fallen Empires' was born, It is Gary Lightbody's most autobiographical album yet and he credits Michael Stipe with "saving his life."
~~~ This is your life, this is your time... ~~~
I have always liked Snow Patrol and was pleased to see them beginning to enjoy the success they deserved a few years back after a long time struggling with their music not even making the top 200. With epic tracks such as 'Run' and 'Chasing Cars' the band have gone from strength to strength and with that singer Gary Lightbody's confidence has grown too, from nervy performances where he appeared scared to open his eyes and look out to the crowd whilst performing, to embracing the audience, enjoying some inbetween song banter and enjoying every minute. I saw them performing live in Newcastle in 2009 and they quickly became one of my favourite bands. After enjoying the success of those epic earlier tracks maybe it is no wonder that writer's block featured, as delivering more albums when people's expectations are now high, cannot always be easy.
Fallen Empires shows a new electronic side to Snow Patrol in places, something which the band felt was a natural move for them and they had often talked about. Careful not to change things too much there is also a return to familiar territory on the album too. Gary had promised there would only be around five tracks which would be more electronic and so there was nothing to be afraid of.
To be honest with all the talk of writer's block and then a shift towards a more electronic sound I was feeling nervous about listening to Fallen Empires, but I need not have worried for once again the band have delivered a good album. Although I will say it isn't perhaps my favourite Snow Patrol album, there are still some great tracks on here which get better and better with every listen.
~~~ Don't keel over now... ~~~
The album overall has a more mellow sound than previous and the lyrics a little deeper, but then that is to be expected given what I explained earlier about the writing process for the album. For example 'This Isn't Everything You Are' is a beautiful song and typically Snow Patrol with its mellow verses and uplifting chorus, but as Gary sings "Don't keel over now... this isn't everything you are, just take the hand that's offered and hold on tight" it is as if he is summing up perfectly what he has been through. It is one of the standout tracks on the album for me.
'Called Out In The Dark' is another of my favourites as Gary professes "This is your life, this is your time" on this very catchy track which is a little different from their earlier work and has a more 'poppy' feel, but it still has Snow Patrol stamped all over it thanks to Gary's distinctive vocals which are a big part of the band's unique sound.
Indeed it is the album's softer moments: The Garden Rules, The Symphony, The President and the sad tale of long distance love: 'New York,' which perhaps make Fallen Empires the most melancholy Snow Patrol album to date. Love and loss are prominent features with lyrics "Oh you'll never know how much I love you so" from 'The Garden Song' or "I miss it all from the love to the lightning and the lack of it snaps me in two" from 'New York' for example, simply bring a lump to your throat when hearing Gary singing them. It is certainly an album that has many tracks you could wallow and lose yourself in if feeling down.
This doesn't mean that the album overall is gloomy or too melancholy as it still has those moments which inspire and uplift, however, it may be appreciated more by fans of softer rock as the heavier chords used on earlier tracks such as 'Chocolate' and 'You're All I Have' for instance, are kept to a minimum here. Title track 'Fallen Empires' and 'In The End' are the high points of the album, full of energy and more uplifting and along with the catchiness of 'Called Out In The Dark' these tracks are just the thing to give you a lift after the mellowness.
The band wrote 22 songs for the record and at one point had to be cruel and cut eight songs out, but what remains makes up an album which gets better and better with every listen as I notice something else which endears me to it more and more. I had different favourites on every listen at first, going from 'Called Out In The Dark' and 'This Isn't Everything You Are' to the sparkling 'Those Distant Bells' and 'In The End' until eventually I realised nearly every track had became a favourite. Heartfelt lyrics, a good sound and Gary's talents as a vocalist makes this album shine. It ends with a prelude: "Broken Bottles Form A Star" and if that is a taster of what is to come from the next Snow Patrol album, then I can't wait to hear it!
I'll Never Let Go
Called Out In The Dark
The Weight Of Love
This Isn't Everything You Are
The Garden Rules
In The End
Those Distant Bells
Broken Bottles Form A Star (Prelude)
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 I'll Never Let Go
2 Called Out In The Dark
3 The Weight Of Love
4 This Isn't Everything You Are
5 The Garden Rules
6 Fallen Empires
9 New York
10 In The End
11 Those Distant Bells
12 The Symphony
13 The President
14 Broken Bottles Form A Star
Disc #2 Tracklisting
1 Finish Line
2 An Olive Grove Facing The Sea
3 You Could Be Happy
4 Take Back The City
5 Dark Roman Wine
6 Spitting Games
9 Planets Bend Between Us
10 Chasing Cars