THURSDAY, JANUARY 12, 2012 |
Posted by: Joe Puglisi
Snow Patrol's latest is by far their longest effort, and the one with the most depth, making it a rewarding outing for old and new fans-- if they're willing (or aware they should) put in the time to explore it. It's been a long time since "Run." The band has been unfortunately dormant since the success of their Jacknife Lee produced 2005 breakout album Eyes Open, whose single "Chasing Cars" was pigeonholed as Lite FM rock and left the band on Grey's Anatomy Soundtrack levels of perception. And upon first mention, with no other information, there is no reason to believe otherwise of their latest, Fallen Empires, which clocks in at 57 minutes and begins with the band's signature drone-y riff style.
But the tracks have a subtle grandeur that reinforces lead singer Gary Lightbody claims that this is their best record yet. Collaboration with composers Owen Pallett (Final Fantasy, Arcade Fire) and Nico Muhly (Jonsi, Antony and the Johnsons) add a new scale to the band's work. The highs and lows are less "singles and filler" and more the ups and downs of aggressive or reserved, upbeat or contemplative. And while nothing here is advancing the field of pop rock, or pushing the boundaries of introducing synthetic elements to the standard alternative rock record, it's a fun journey with many memorable elements (especially the strange and risky title track). Despite a genre that seems to be securing less and less terrestrial radio play, and no blog love, Snow Patrol remains an engaging alternative to their contemporaries-- namely the fruity direction of Coldplay, the formulaic Fray, or the millions of painfully boring mainstream alt-rock acts too generic to name. Here they occasionally recapture the spark of "Run" by doing the unimaginable, writing songs for themselves, not the radio.