Since their 2004 stateside breakout, the gently rocking Irish alt band Snow Patrol have shifted their emphasis from lyrical platitudes to musical bombast. But after a three-year break, they sound revitalized on their sixth album and come out swinging from the opening tracks (the insistent "I'll Never Let Go" and majestic "Called Out in the Dark"), as bubbling synths, thundering bass, and sinewy, fuzzy guitar lines form a solid foundation around singer and songwriter Gary Lightbody. Snow Patrol have endured numerous comparisons to U2 and Coldplay over the years because of their similar sonic and emotional touchstones, but on Fallen Empires, they carve out their own passionate identity — from the textural balladic beauty of "This Isn't Everything You Are" to the churning tribal pop of the title track — within that familiar construct. — Brian Baker
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