Fallen Empires, the sixth studio album from Snow Patrol, is the bands longest album to date with its 14 tracks adding up to a cumulative total of almost one hour of music and, included in that, is some of the most vibrant and wide-ranged music the band have made in their careers up to this point. The quiet melodies of Final Straw have been moved to the side in favour of a more electronic approach, seemingly employing all the switches and knobs on the mixing desk resulting in an album thick with layers and experimentation.
It's difficult to dismiss the notion that Fallen Empires probably won't have the same universal appeal that the band enjoyed with the aforementioned Final Straw and its follower Eyes Open. It's more dancefloor-filler than soulful, introspective pop music. The band are too wise though to entirely ignore what it is that has defined their music up to this point though, and leave room for their signature catchy hooks and choruses, even if the bed of music that they lay upon is occasionally wildly different to before. Gary Lightbody has always been a songwriter with a keen ability to mould his vocals around any melody and, on the evidence of Fallen Empires, that talent is as pronounced as ever.
However, Lightbody has admitted that he occasionally struggled with writer's block in the production of this album (even calling in Michael Stipe for inspiration at one point) and, as you might imagine, any album that is written even under the slightest bit of duress usually suffers for it. Fallen Empires is a little too sprawling for its own good and while its sheer catchiness will satisfy long-time fans, it's not the album that Snow Patrol will be identified by when all is said and done. Lightbody said he wanted Fallen Empires to be a direct result of the influences he had while putting it together, citing Arcade Fire as an example. Unfortunately this is more Neon Bible than Funeral.