May 25, 2018 Snow Patrol – Wildness (Album Review)
Snow Patrol catapulted to mainstream recognition in 2006 via their breakthrough single “Chasing Cars,” which was a nominee to “Best Rock Song” at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards and to “Best British Single” at the 2007 Brit Awards. However, they actually started as early as the late ’90s, taking them practically a decade of operating within the fringes of the Alternative/Indie spectrum before the commercial radar had picked up their existential frequency.
Formed in 1993, in Dundee, Scotland, U.K., Snow Patrol has released six studio albums – from the Post-Punk/Alternative Rock sound of 1998’s Songs for Polarbears, to the Limestone Rock/Blue Romantic/Sophistipop of the highly successful Eyes Open of 2006, to the Electronic/Synthpop excursion of 2011’s Fallen Empires, after which the band went on a hiatus as band members engaged on individual side projects.
Now, after six years of quietude, Snow Patrol – currently comprised by founding members Gary Lightbody (lead vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards) and Jonny Quinn (drums, percussion), Nathan Connolly (guitar, backing vocals), Paul Wilson (bass, backing vocals), and Johnny McDaid (piano, keyboards, guitar, backing vocals) – certainly got reinvigorated, finally unleashing their much-awaited followup.
Simply titled Wildness, Snow Patrol’s new opus is released on Friday, May 25, 2018, via Polydor/Republic Records. Its overall sound is definitely a big breath of fresh sonic air yet still carries the soulful and melodic slant of the band’s music. Wildness opens with the larger-than-life, Orchestral Pop-leaning “Life on Earth,” which is lyrically brimming with bright and hopeful aspirations. Following is the acoustic guitar-led “Don’t Give In,” which may recall Pastoral Pop songs such as Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive,” OneRepublic’s “Future Looks Good,” and Mumford & Sons’ “I Will Wait.” The mood and rhythm flows flawlessly with the pulsating beats of the ensuing “Heal Me.” Lightbody and his comrades have really come out of their sabbatical refreshed and positive vibes restored, especially as the sunny, upbeat, and bass-heavy “Empress” punches its way into the listener’s yearning heart.
“A Dark Switch” is a change of style and pace – funky, angular, and undulating with Lightbody’s exploring his falsettos to great effect and which may remind the initiated of the sexy Jagger swagger of Maroon 5. Snow Patrol then turns sentimental and romantic with the inspired piano ballad “What If This Is All the Love You Ever Get?,” reminding the listener that Snow Patrol is not just a purveyor of dance-floor tracks but also a master of tear-jerking love songs.
The strummy “A Youth Written in Fire” returns the album to its arena sound – a bit R-n-B-flavored, a tad Sophistipop, emanating a curving ambience. This style gives way to the slightly slower, light-jazzy, and starry-eyed introspection of “Soon,” which shines with its cascading piano flourishes and ultimately builds up with its thickening sonic texture.
The penultimate track, “Wild Horses” is a special treat, as it gallops back to the much-missed Tribal/Post-Punk styling of Snow Patrol of old. Aptly, the band wraps up its almost conceptual latest offering with the meditative grace and groove of “Life and Death.”
The seven-year absence of Snow Patrol has definitely been compensated for by the well-crafted predisposition of Wildness, whose cool and creativity came in the right moment – summer and season of hope and love amid an ever-challenging world. Despite all this, Snow Patrol’s music remains a blanket of comfort and a cloud of white cottons for enthusiasts who love a dose of Alternative and Indie music. CrypticRock gives Wildness 4 out of 5 stars.