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Snow Patrol - Wildness - Ltd. CD -

Price per Unit (stuk): €23.95

It’s been seven long years since stadium-striding, mainstream-cracking indie-rockers Snow Patrol last released a record. During that time, the world has weathered numerous political storms, lost a multitude of music legends and saw trends come and go in the blink of an eye (farewell Fidget Spinners, we hardly knew ye). For the band members themselves, there was just as much unrest and upheaval – including singer/guitarist Gary Lightbody battling writer’s block, embracing sobriety and questioning the band’s place in the current climate.

After seven years of side-projects, philanthropic ventures, collaborations with the likes of Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and One Direction and, of course, some good old fashioned soul searching, the Bangor-born band have returned with a record which confirms that “their place” remains at the very top of the indie-rock tree. Initially intended for a 2016 release (if reports are to be believed), seventh album Wildness may have had a difficult birth, but it was worth it. It is arguably the most ambitious opus of their 25-year career.

Once again teaming up with their old cohort Jacknife Lee, the 10-track LP does a seamless job of sating fans’ thirst for fresh stadium-sized anthems (‘Wild Horses’), while also skilfully illustrating that you really can teach some old dogs new tricks (Lightbody’s new-found falsetto on ‘A Youth Written In Fire,’ for example, has a previously untapped R&B vibe). Living up to the album’s title, Wildness also sees the quintet take a few risks musically and tinker with their hugely successful formula, label bosses be damned.

‘Dark Switch’ is an infectious oddity that has the sexiness of Lucy Pearl’s ‘Don’t Mess With My Man,’ the gothic glamour of Fleetwood Mac’s Tango In The Night and the the twisted pop of Kate Bush in its DNA. The folksy ‘Don’t Give In’ also pushes boundaries and debuts a new, raspy vocal style from Lightbody, which gives goosebumps you could hang a hat off, as he tellingly warns “Don’t fall in love with the way things were/ It’ll fuck up your mind”. The bombastic ‘Life On Earth’, meanwhile, adds some gravitas to proceedings.

There’s plenty of Wildness in the lyrics too, which revolve around the twin themes of self-discovery and acceptance. Lightbody bravely lays himself bare throughout, and writes about subjects such as personal rebirth (‘Heal Me’) and his father’s battle with dementia (‘Soon’), delivering his most intimate collection of songs yet.

While Wildness isn’t perfect (the album is a little front-loaded), it is a stylish, sometimes surprising comeback that will firmly re-establish Snow Patrol in the charts and hearts of the world. Welcome back.

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