Single Review: Snow Patrol – ‘Called Out In The Dark’

“‘Called Out In The Dark’ is more convincing than any of the younger electro-indie bands trying to emulate a similar style”

4 STARS

Digital Release: September 4, 2011
Physical Release: N/A
When Snow Patrol last left us to head back to their dinghy little studio with the Greatest Hits album ‘Up To Now’ doing the rounds, the trailer single, a hasty grapple at synth-pop going by a title so typical of the band you could almost guess the lyrics – ‘Just Say Yes’ – wasn’t quite the wide-screen preciousness that they’d made their name for wielding ferociously overblown crescendo-rock like their staple ‘Chasing Cars’. Instead, ‘Just Say Yes’ turned out to be an experimental snap-shot of what their soaring sissy-rock would sound like were the guitars ousted for electronic instruments. That said, it was difficult for me – and most likely Snow Patrol fans – to come to terms with the fact that they intended to pursue this sound. If we had any reason to worry, it was because of the majority of self-professed, supposedly “influence-less” “electro-indie” bands with ridiculous names and overreaching 80’s nonsense dictating their work don’t so much as impress as it does make one feel pity, and with Gary Lightbody being the sulkiest moaner in music, more pity is the last thing his poor, lovelorn soul needs.
But ‘Called Out In The Dark’ suggests that their recent turn to pretentious cosmological personifications is about to pay off, even if Lightbody’s lyrics are still giving the impression that he is the only man alive who understands his reliably inaccessible metaphors. “Show me now, show me the arms aloft/Every eye trained on a different star/This magic, this drunken semaphore” has to be the most turgid way of saying “Show me the lighters” ever penned. Dire lyrics aside, the accompaniment on ‘Called Out In The Dark’ transcends the squirming superficialities that riddled their more recent albums through faultless production and sheer simplicity. Transforming triumphantly from chugging verses into a subtly anthemic mixture of sonic synthesisers and swirling guitar, decorated with Lightbody’s dulcet tones.
In retrospect, ‘Just Say Yes’ was simply a warm-up for the bolder material. Though ‘Called Out In The Dark’ rings loudly with the same timid self-consciousness Lightbody appears incapable of shaking off (although, he would probably argue it’s more about authenticating vulnerability, but he’d be wrong), it’s the most likely unintentionally shrewd way in which they’ve tapped in to their musical history as musicians that rescues the song from turning out like their Greatest Hits single – their musical history since before they became radio friendly, and it’s in the experience that they find their fiercest asset in the genre mine-field they’re in now. Whilst I don’t believe for a second they could pull off an album’s worth of material of the same, ‘Called Out In The Dark’ is more convincing than any musically inept, younger electro-indie bands trying to emulate a similar style.

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