The Return of Snow Patrol
It's like opening your Christmas presents in front of Santa.
Last Thursday, ATL spent a couple of hours in a room with Gary Lightbody (and a few others!) listening to the new Snow Patrol album. Gary, clearly very excited and proud of his band's sixth record, had decided to use a playback as an excuse to get the beers in and chat with friends, a few family members and….well, the likes of us. Good fun, but more than a little intimidating. What if we don't dig what we hear? What happens then?!
Such a relief then - we end up completely floored. I was physically buzzing, a little teary at points. Honestly folks - and I know some of you are thinking I'd have said something similar regardless - it's an astonishing record. I'm not daft enough to say it's my favourite Snow Patrol album after a single listen, but it's definitely the most instant collection of songs I've heard by anyone in a very long time.
My favourite album of all time is 'Let It Come Down' by Spiritualized.
Most laugh and exclaim it's not even the best Spiritualized record, but I love it for two reasons - it's massive and it's simple. At the same time. Not easy. The production is kitchen-sink BIG but the songs are welcoming and lyrically approachable.
I kept thinking about that album on Thursday evening.
So, 'Fallen Empires'. There's a belter of an opener, during which they out-U2 U2 (the only real comparison you could draw to that band on the entire album I hasten to add). There's unashamed love songs, orchestral majesty and a pretty track called 'All I wanted from Life' (or something similar) that contains the line 'Ireland in the World Cup, either North or South'.
There's at least three proper sing-alongs, loads of female vocals and a weird psychedelic outro. Just a load of incredible songs, really. And I disagreed with people at the playback who said it's a mad departure and doesn't really sound like what we'd expect from a Snow Patrol album. It's a step up in quality once again, sure, but it's still the same band. Clearly.
'Final Straw' was Gary stumbling upon hit singles, shifting Snow Patrol out of obscurity. 'Eyes Open' was Final Straw x10 and, as a result, the band became one of the biggest in the world. 'A Hundred Million Suns' was comparatively experimental, perhaps made by folk keen to deviate a little.
But 'Fallen Empires'….Snow Patrol have arguably made the record they wanted to make all along. Freeing themselves from everything that comes from sudden stardom, ignoring the daft, but inevitable criticism that rears its head when a band start selling out arenas, it's the sound of a band locking themselves away and creating a record to make themselves, ahead of everyone else, feel proud. We'll follow, naturally enough.
Such exciting times, then. Turns out they're only getting started.