It’s been over three years since Scottish outfit Snow Patrol released their last studio album, 2008’s A Hundred Million Suns. If fans are looking for a follow-up that’s far from profound, the band’s latest is just about the ideal album — Snow Patrol’s sixth studio effort, Fallen Empires, is an uninspired collection of tunes that is easily forgettable.
The album opens with “I’ll Never Let Go,” a shapeless venture with predictable pop-rock percussion. The song takes a decided turn toward the rock end of the spectrum with the addition of backup vocals by folk rocker Lissie. But her wailing sounds out of place and only adds confusion to the direction of the album.
The whole of Fallen Empires appears to be an attempt at a sequel to Snow Patrol’s biggest hit to date, 2006’s “Chasing Cars.” Most of the tracks are spent unsuccessfully taking aim at the perfect angst-ridden love song.
“This Isn’t Everything You Are,” one such attempt, features the groan-worthy lines, “Feels like you loved him more than he loved you / And you wish you’d never met / Don’t keel over now.” The song fulfills that resoundingly dull Snow Patrol mentality of love as the be-all, end-all, must-have force of life.
One of Fallen Empires’s few pleasant surprises is “The Symphony,” which starts out with a more exciting, synthesizer-based percussion line. The rest of the song is a wash, but the introductory rhythm on its own stands out more than most of the collection’s material.
Another is “The President,” the darkest ballad of the album. It’s built on a foundation of minimalist piano chords and elongated string lines and is easily the most convincing track of the bunch. Coincidentally (or not), it’s also the least produced — and therefore the least obnoxiously overdone.
One shift that the group has taken is a noticeably heavy use of layered unison vocals. During the title track, a chorus even chants “We are the light,” no less than 48 times. Impressive, but not in a good way. That’s the case in point — Fallen Empires lacks the self-editing required of any band that hopes to make a repeatedly listenable album. The track titled “Life-ning” centers around the vocalist moaning “this is all I ever wanted from life” over and over. Like this song, most of the album’s material feels unnecessary.
The album closes with “Broken Bottles Form A Star (Prelude),” an instrumental track laced with plucking strings and pulsing piano. The song barely peaks before it’s over, cascading with momentum. Surprisingly, it’s a refreshingly positive note to end on.
Snow Patrol would have greatly benefitted from cutting a few songs off of Fallen Empires, shaving the selection down to focus the direction a bit more. As a whole, the lyricism feels unmotivated and the production lackluster. Disappointingly, it sounds like Fallen Empires was made in a mere few weeks — after a full listen of the album, most of the songs blur together.
The majority of Fallen Empires’s fourteen tracks, clocking in at one hour, aren’t worth your time.