Snow Patrol news & community since 2008.

TTB “Fallen Empires” Review


Here is our TTB ‘Fallen Empires’ review. Written by fourteen of our lovely community members, this review is as diverse as we expected (and hoped!).

We hope you enjoy reading through it and please feel free to discuss the album as a whole or selected songs in the appropriate threads. The review as a whole can be discussed here. Thanks to the reviewers!

1. I’ll Never Let Go // Becky // “Supposedly the most “electro/dance” of the new album, ‘I’ll Never Let Go’, opening the new album, could have been the twin of the controversial ‘Just Say Yes’. Yet, what Snow Patrol has brought to the table is a bigger, bolder and far better cousin!

Initially, there’s a feeling that perhaps, it won’t get into it stride, but once the drums kick in, you have a potent stadium-sized epic, easily having the refrain erupting from the voices of vast crowds. The vocals from Lissie mix it up a bit, though seem slightly out of place, and somehow unnecessary. Though, this can be forgiven as we’re left stunned with a dramatic drum climax! – BANG! If Snow Patrol wanted to shake up their sound, this has certainly worked”

2. Called Out in the Dark // Sandricka // I think It was quite clever to start the promotion of the album with it, since it will cause curiosity to the audience that are not SP fans, because it differs from the rest of their music. Maybe that was the goal. I find that the combination of the acoustic guitar riff, the drumbeat and Gary’s voice is quite catchy.

The mixture of dance and electronic music, together with the lyrics (which are totally in Gary’s style and wonderfully foolish and poetic) make the song light and cheerful, vibrating with positive energy. I dare say people will remember the phrase “drunken semaphore”. I would call it a mood booster song.

3. Weight Of Love // Kathrin // The refreshing, melodic, pure acoustic guitar intro for „Weight of Love“ already indicates that this one is going to turn into a real – and beautiful – pop song. It comes as no surprise that Gary Lighbody’s voice sounds as pure and powerful as we know it and when the bass drums kicks in at 0:30 you will find yourself tapping along with the beat.

With the first chorus (“You love the little signs of life“) at the latest, which by the way adds a little pinch of hi-hat, there is no refraining your body to sway to the rhythm of this song. It is only after the chorus, when the entry of the electronic guitar adds even more “pop” to it. In the course of the second verse some synth tunes are thrown in and make this pop a little 80ish. The final ingredient to this happy-sounding, vibrant tune are the backing vocals by Lissie and the rest of the band which were added for the second chorus (“It’s the weight of love in your arms“) and give the song its final rich (yummy) sound.

Lyric-wise Mr. Lightbody has done a pretty good job as well. Although it might not be one of his lyrical masterpieces the positive words – which in my opinion hail from happy, mindless and “devil-may-care” times, while becoming fearless towards the future and which tell you to just enjoy your life– go perfectly with the upbeat tempo and the rising, impulsive melody.

So all in all I can say that these strong vocals, the impelling drumming and the bass, a rousing electric guitar set and some hip synthesizer tunes that all build up successively, make for this wonderful and powerful song. Well done on this one, Snow Patrol! Can I have a refill, please?

4. This Isn’t Everything You Are // Jack // I heard This Isn’t Everything You Are for the first time on Later With Jools Holland. Just after one listen the raw emotion of the song took my breath away and left me wanting more. For me I rate this song along side the other powerful Snow Patrol songs like Open Your Eyes and Run.

To me this is a song about doubt, depression, regret and the search for self believe. The main thing that’d give me the idea is how Gary plea’s ‘Don’t keel over, don’t keel over now’ repeatedly as the tension builds. Then on the chorus all the feelings can’t be contained any longer and the song as well as the character just explodes, with the loudness of the music and then Gary singing ‘And in one little moment it all implodes, this isn’t everything you are.’ The signs of hope are scattered throughout the song especially in the last line of the chorus as Gary sings ‘there’s joy not far from here, I know there is.’ In the end I think our character finds their self believe when the choir comes in at the end as they sing with Gary ‘this isn’t everything you are’ while singing an uplifting ahh in the background. The song ends on a quite note with an orchestra closing out the last few seconds to relieve the tension that has been built up over the 4 minutes of the song.

This Isn’t Everything You Are is definitely my favourite song of the album but only just with The Garden Rules being a close 2nd. Out of ten I’d give the song a solid 8/10. I’m sure it’s going to join the likes of Run on the permanent songs on a live setlist.

5. The Garden Rules // Becky B // The Garden Rules is the fifth track on Fallen Empires, and also the introductory track into the quieter side of the album. Adorned with mournful piano and almost haunting vocals, the track, if you are a previous fan of Snow Patrol, will seem to you possibly a nod back to the slower numbers on Eyes Open, whilst being just that bit more mature. It has the same honest lyrics as songs such as Set the Fire to the Third Bar and You Could Be Happy, but the sound behind the vocals and lyrics has certainly changed, grown, whilst retaining that achingly familiar feeling that Snow Patrol always seem to create, like nothing much has changed when really they are growing without you really noticing it.

Lissie’s voice in the last verse seems to overpower Gary’s a little, like there is a bit too much going in one verse, but in the build towards the end it is welcomed, adding just that bit extra to the song.

All in all it is a simple, yet wonderfully put together song, easily relatable to lots of people, the nostalgia of childhood and first love. Classic Snow Patrol. Really, what else did you expect?

6. Fallen Empires // Tina // The title song from their new album, Snow Patrol brings some new and some old to the song Fallen Empires. The Snow Patrol style, a catchy, repetitive vocal melody with complex layers of accompaniment, is present in full force, but the song content and the execution are definitely different from prior efforts. The song has an unusual structure, starting out with a simple melody and growing in complexity throughout. A solid drum beat, mandolin, and heavy synthesizer use balance a repetitive vocal line, and builds consistently to the almost primal and Irish-flavored “We Are the Light” mantra that serves as a chorus and closes out the song.

The lyrics of Fallen Empires imply desperate conflict that will only be resolved through the complete destruction of one of the participants. It is open to interpretation as to whether the conflict discussed is between two people or two larger entities on a more global scale, but is interesting because it reflects snapshots of the conflict from the point of view of the weaker party. Early in the song, lines such as “the condensation is building tension” and “a stubborn silence is formed” describe the early stages of discord. As the disharmony grows, it is clear that the weaker party is unable or unwilling to actively participate, as expressed in the lines “frightened under attack” and “arms and legs I’m too scared to beg.” The battle concludes with “you ruined everything right” and “from my cave I can see the wave,” which seems to imply the end or collapse for one of the parties involved.

Overall, the song has excellent imagery, and is poetically written. The somewhat repetitive melody at first seems monotonous, but upon a few listens, has a hypnotic flavor that serves the song well. Fallen Empires is an excellent effort that really demonstrates the artistry of the band, as they were able to use their strengths to create a memorable and catchy tune that is both unlike their prior efforts but still has a definite Snow Patrol sound.

7. Berlin // Cheryl // ‘Berlin’ – the shortest Snow Patrol song *ever*! Or so I thought. Yes ‘Broken Bottles Form a Star (Prelude)’ is the shortest song ever written by Snow Patrol, but it has no vocals at all, so I didn’t count it. Turns out there are a grand total of six SP songs clocking in at less than two and a quarter minutes, most notably their first ever release ‘Holy Cow’. And Berlin stands at only the fourth shortest song! But only ‘Berlin’ and ‘Broken Bottles’ are not from the first EP and album. J

It is easy to dismiss this song as simple and not worthy of your attention, but it is the one “not heard yet” song on the album that grabbed me on release day. It hasn’t let go either. The layers to this song are truly brilliant. Starting with just a few notes from an acoustic guitar, bits are added at each turn. The piano and steady throb of Jonny’s drum are next. Add to that the beauty of the dulcitone and the cadence of Gary’s voice. It swells further with bigger drums and the choir. And if all that isn’t enough, strings and a bass line complete the sound. Then the pure joy of the song is closed out with the dulcitone’s final notes.

And I do mean joy. This song makes me dance and bounce all alone in my living room time and time again. People speculate that this song was “written” during Gary’s writer’s block period. I disagree. There is a joyfulness about this song that can only come from being free of your demons. This is what came after the pain.

‘Berlin’ is currently being used as the “take to the stage” song at Snow Patrol’s live shows and I heartily agree with the choice. It sets the right tone for the show and gets people up and happy. Lang lebe Berlin!

In case you are curious:
2:11 ‘Make-up’
2:07 ‘Sticky Teenage Twin’
2:03 ‘Berlin’
1:55 ‘Holy Cow’
1:46 ‘JJ’
1:31 ‘Broken Bottle Form a Star (Prelude)’

8. Lifening // Janie // Beautifully written from Lightbody’s heart. It’s full of the traditional Lightbody lyrics from his honest heart and Snow Patrol’s “slow song” music arrangement – guitar chords, with a keyboard gently playing without you even noticing them and a build up throughout the song of strings and Jacknife’s legendary touch. Personally, I feel like Lightbody has just made a list of all the things he hankers after and then added background music and not the other way around.

I was emotional hearing it live at the Q Awards, falling in love with it first listen. The album version is obviously more polished but it doesn’t fail to tug at my heart strings with the emotion of it.

It’s simple yet beautiful. It’s happy yet sad. I love that he has mentioned his Dad with a very touching lyric of tribute and it makes me want Ireland to win the World Cup! This song drives home to me why I fell in love with the tall Irish one – emotional lyrics sung with true depth bringing out the Lightbody accent that I have found to be missing on a few of the other tracks. I adore the whole album but Lifening is like going home to a big Snow Patrol hug.

9. New York // Julia // Right from the start, with the addition of McDaid’s adept piano, this song has an alluring and beautiful pace. Paired simply in the beginning with Lightbody’s voice the longing in his tone sings with the piano. – ‘If the curve of you was curved on me’ – It slowly builds with instrument and striking lyrics to a crescendo of need and want. Passion of new love, not knowing what to do with yourself from the internal chaos of time & distance, all in all it then ending it’s a beautiful tell. With a seamingly simple blend of music and lyrics New York has done it’s job as a song that will have their audience singing with recognition. Fittingly, the last bits of the song knots with the abrupt ending that love sometimes carries. It has a very clean sound from studio layering so I will be thrilled to hear it live for the first time, to hear it as a whole.

10. In The End // Skylar // Like almost every song Gary writes, the lyrics to “In The End” are so true and so raw and beautiful. It’s very guitar driven, and the vocals are something we don’t hear from Gary often. It’s very catchy, and the rhythm is very danceable, and has an almost upbeat feeling even though the song isn’t the happiest. All in all it’s an absolutely fantastic track, which is just as expected from Snow Patrol :)

11. Those Distant Bells // Silke // When I read the news, that I should write a review about “Those Distant Bells” (sure, I said I would want to write a review…), I thought: “Shit! That is one of the songs I have absolutely nothing to say about.” So I listened a lot to it: in the bed, on the way to my friends, when I ironed my clothes, in the bathroom, on the way to work, almost all day… and I got into a dark mood. But…

The darkness of the song caught me. Pictures of the night, a forrest, mist and shiver came to my mind. As soon as you listen to the melody, the haunting sound of the guitar and the piano already gets you to the heart of the song and joins you into the short story that is told.

Lyrics and melody absolutely fit together (even encourage each other) and make the song to a well balanced piece. Just the hoarse voice of Lissie doesn’t fit this time to the bright voice of Gary. As well as the position of this song on the album. Being in a dark dream from “Those Distant Bells” you are put onto the dancefloor by the beat of “The Symphony”. What a rough change!

12. The Symphony // Carrie // The Symphony is a simple, soothing reflection on getting past something difficult (perhaps the infamous writer’s block?) and looking at it from the other side. Lyrically, the song is fairly standard, with its vague yet somehow thought-provoking imagery of ghosts and engines, much of which Gary Lightbody has employed before. Musically, the rhythm section gets a chance to shine in the strong bass line and drumbeat. The other instrumental parts (including the backing vocals) build gradually without ever reaching fever pitch. There is some nifty guitar work in the lengthy bridge and the outro. While the chorus is catchy and easily singable, the real hook comes at the end of the song, in the repeated “If this is all you ever ask for, this is all you’ll get.” The singing here is fine but not particularly impressive, though the high notes at the end are nicely done. Placed toward the end of the album, this song provides a bit of a break from the intense emotion and dynamic of the earlier pieces, as well as making a nice transition to the more cerebral ending pieces, The President and Broken Bottles Form a Star. As a discrete unit, The Symphony is a possible radio single, but probably not Snow Patrol’s next number one hit.

13. The President // Patrick & Niall // The President, effectively the album closer, is a heartbreaking, orchestra backed and piano driven song which Gary has revealed was written about a homeless man he met in L.A during the recording of the album. The intro is strikingly similar to the Eyes Open album’s final track, Warmer Climate. The average listener would be forgiven for thinking this was another song inspired by Lightbody’s now famous and well documented relationship trouble as he sings “I have run from everyone that I have ever known.”

Sombre piano chords and a whistling strings arrangement are beautiful here. But it’s the deeply moving lyrics that really resonates with the listener,and leaves you wonder about your own life and regrets long after the track finishes. “You wish you listened more, to your instincts, to your family, to the wisdom you’d ignored/when are you finally gonna ask us for help”. It is that chorus which provides a true “goosebumps” moment in this album and sees Lightbody’s lyrics at their heartbreaking best.

Jonny McDaid on piano (who has given the band a whole new dimension) gives his best performance on the album. Every strike of the piano keys breaks your heart a tiny bit more until, with vocals loaded with regret, Gary declares “I will take the road forgotten, again…” and your heart implodes. The President is a beautifully written, and stunningly executed song that will tug on the heart strings of any warm blooded being. The song may never see the light of day as a single, but will doubtlessly be added to Snow Patrol’s ever growing list of hidden gems.

14. Broken Bottles From A Star // Yn // This short song is the last song on Fallen Empires. It sounds like an addition to The lightning strike.

At the beginning it seems like people are on a gig waiting for the show to start. And this could possible be the opening of the Fallen Empires Tour. It’s energetic and is like a bridge between the last recorded album (A hundred Million suns) and the new one.

The song is also very orchestral. If one would listen carefully, one would notice that not only the obvious piano playing is present, but also violins. There are no lyrics.
It could be a great opener for a gig, but it feels a bit too forced on the whole album. Also, the mentioning of prelude in the titel is very confusion since it’s the last song. Broken bottles didn’t convince me. Berlin is much more energizing and feels more enthousiatsic than this one.

2 Responses »

  1. Love all your reviews. It’s good to see some positivity from you all despite the mixed reaction the album seems to be getting elsewhere. This is my favourite Snow Patrol record since Final Straw, I’m glad I’m not alone in enjoying it as much.

  2. Congrats everyone – great review!

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