Lyric For The Day 17.11.11 from Hymn For A New Age by Ray Davies


Fallen Empires

Snow Patrol are often now maligned by the very same people that fought their corner pre Run. It is as if popularity is a bad thing that needs made fun of. Well, there is nothing wrong with making music that a lot of people like. Without the universal popularity of The Beatles and The Stones we would not have a music scene in any way like the way it is today. So, stop knocking the ability to appeal to a wide fan base and fill stadiums. I could better understand the ire if Snow Patrol has stopped being creative and had settled for some bland formula that was always going to work. I put myself in a special place at judging this band’s development having sought out their new album on the morning of release since When It’s All Over We Still Have To Clear Up (and surely only Davy Matchett and their parents can match that!). Following from that far back I can see the musical proficiency develop but more particularly the lyrics, the melodies and the production.  Fallen Empires is testament again to a band constantly seeking new terrain, perpetually working on their craft and always coming up with better songs and records.

Snow Patrol have never made the same record twice and once again, though the DNA at the core is very familiar, they have gone out to other territories to bring home new ideas and sounds. The thing of course to remember is that these guys have always been fans as much as stars themselves; they namedrop Teenage Fan Club here to add to Sufjan Stevens two records ago. Their involvement in side projects, collectives, curating compilations, Gary and Tom’s DJ sets as well as Gary’s column in Q magazine reveal a band of musical adventure and they have rarely been as adventurous as this.

The lead-off single, Called Out In The Dark’s electronica might not have been a surprise after their hit Just Say Yes but might have caused some to worry about the loss of Nathan Connelly’s guitar stealth from the sound. Well no need to worry. Even on, what they themselves have named “celtic techno, the title track it is not an erasing Nathan as much as a dressing of him up. It adds layers and for those musically inquisitive this is a treasure trove. Another influential tributary flowing in to this ocean of sound is the band’s experimental Reworked concerts, a DVD of The Royal Albert Hall gig of that tour is available on the Deluxe edition. The creative imagination and the adding of a near orchestra to their work has given ideas to the arrangements particularly of vocals but also instrumentation here. The instrumental Berlin is a case and point and the perfectly crafted songwriter song Lifening might have its origins in the intimacy of those concerts. It’s lines about football, family and love is everyman without pretention; another of Snow Patrol’s endearing qualities.

So, yes, the sonic leap is matched by Gary Lightbody’s songs; he simply gets better and better as a lyricist and songwriter. He has some very original images and he has honed the rhythms and rhymes which has led to some delicious and unforgettable couplets. Renowned for his serial romantic failures that leads to much melancholy, on Fallen Empires he has been able to bring an abundance of hope and light out of his and other peoples’ emotional debri. This Isn’t Everything You Are is the band’s most complete moment and a pastoral gem for anyone involved in helping a loved one in need. New York with its “There’s so much this hurt can teach us both...” has a life embracing positive aroma that reeks off the entire record.

As a pastor and theo-musicologist my ears lift with the sense of redemption and use of words like prayer and church. I love the line on Those Distant Bells, “You can hear those distant bells/And you know they’ll never leave/It’s like your Church is calling out/Like the wolf cries to her young,” and yes that is the kind of Church I long that my vocation might help create. My sense is that these songs believe that humans can be the energy for their own fulfilment, echoed all around in the “we are the light... we are the light...” chant from The Friend’s Choir wonderfully aided by Lissie and Foy Vance on Fallen Empires. Much as I personally find that philosophy a creed that I haven’t enough faith to believe and need one of those God’s that Lightbody doesn’t want in Lifening, I still find that Snow Patrol trump card peer competition, like Coldplay for example, by producing songs that have a spiritual dimension, focus and effect. This is very much an album that, if saturated in, will be very healthy for the soul.

(check out all other SNOW PATROL related articles on Soul Surmise under SNOW PATROL: DISTANT BELLS in the categories to the right of this page)



Beautiful Steve... thanks for pointing us to this disk.

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