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The Truth is Somewhere In Between
on February 17, 2012
My advice: Pay no attention to either the enthusiasts or the hecklers. There's a lot of talk about how this album took such a giant stylistic leap from their usual muse. This is true for maybe three tracks on the album, in which they used techno flourishes and dance grooves that sometimes throw back to 80s synth-pop-- and, in my opinion, that wasn't a bad thing. I'm not like some reviewers who think bands should never re-invent themselves. (That's why I'm not a huge fan of bands like Boston and AC/DC. Pretty much, each release sounds like every other. But, I digress.)
Those three aforementioned tracks-- "I'll Never Let Go", "Called Out In the Dark" and "In the End"-- are pretty much it for any real stylistic change. And even with those, take away the synths, and they sound just like earlier Snow Patrol work. And, frankly, it's not like they have never used spacey synths before, so even there, it's nothing shockingly new.
The rest of the album is right on par with the typical Snow Patrol material: A few quirky rockers, lots of big, orchestrated ballads with their almost trademark lack of any real bridge, and chorus sometimes not coming in until the very end when it is repeated over... and over.... again.... A formula that has appeared in every album over... and over.... again.... Also, a very simple tune like "Berlin" with wordless vocals, which reminds one much of artsy filler like "NYC" on the Songs for Polar Bears debut.
The stand-outs are the three earlier ones mentioned, as well as the moody ballad "This Isn't Everything You Are"-- awesome songwriting, here--, the intense build-up music of the title track and the cinematic "The Symphony", which are the kind of tracks that endeared me to SP to begin with.
In reality, rather than wowing (or enraging) us with any surprising stylistic change, this is very much an obvious continuation of A Hundred Million Suns-- but not quite as good. Indeed, Fallen Empires is a good recording, but not Snow Patrols best. Some fans, such as myself, will enjoy it, but we are hoping the next one returns to the quality of previous releases.