by Mike Evans
NOT TOO DELICATE
SNOW PATROL — Fallen Empires
THE GOOD: No.
THE BAD: Again, no.
THE NITTY GRITTY: No “good” or “bad,” just incredibly average. Thank your lucky stars, romantic comedy fans — Ireland’s most sensitive guys are back with 14 more hunks of ooey gooey rock custom made for that epic scene at the end of the movie where the guy finally proves he worthy of the girl.
Hey, the song “New York” was already featured on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Yes!
You can probably tell I’m not a huge Snow Patrol enthusiast. They’re not necessarily a disagreeable band. The lads are simply all present and accounted for; songs nice and predictable, albums interchangeable. That’s why they’re so popular. The guys don’t challenge their listeners. You want grand swaying ballads and steady rockers meant to keep the stadium crowds swooning? You’ve come to the right place. Empires is just a new coat of beige paint.
Last time I reviewed a Snow Patrol album, I received a very angry three-page hand-written letter in the mail calling me every rude name in the book. No signature though. At least their anonymous fan base is passionate.
BUY IT?: Why bother.
AIR — Le Voyage Dans La Lune
THE GOOD: French electronic duo Air takes us on a magical journey throughout their seventh album.
THE BAD: It’s tough to judge Le Voyage on its own merits. This is not a “stand alone” project.
THE NITTY GRITTY: The two men were asked to compose a modern score to director George Melies’ silent 1902 classic Le Voyage Dans La Lune when a restored hand-tinted color print was to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival last year. This album is that soundtrack along with some extensions of the original themes.
This is actually the second Air film score. The guys’ 2000 sophomore effort was a companion piece to director Sophia Coppola’s Virgin Suicides. And just like that album, Le Voyage is a mostly instrumental collection with both abbreviated pieces and recurring themes; although this new soundtrack is much more uplifting. Hell, “Sonic Armada” is downright funky.
“Parade” is a delightful flight of fancy while “Lava” is both angelic and romantic, but one must realize this music becomes all the more compelling when set against Melies’ groundbreaking visuals.
BUY IT?: Your call. Le Voyage is fine, but maybe one for diehards only.
TENNIS — Young and Old
THE GOOD: Colorado husband and wife duo Tennis are back with a more forceful sophomore effort.
THE BAD: Nope.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Patrick Carney of the Black Keys is in the producer’s chair this time, giving the pair’s often breezy sounds a little more rock ‘n’ roll punch. But don’t panic. The divine melodies and retro vibes found on last year’s Cape Dory are fully intact. Alaina Moore’s distinct coo falls somewhere between girl-next-door innocence and sultry temptress while Patrick Riley’s guitar adds muscle without overpowering the proceedings. Not one moment is lacking in cool indie charm.
The first half of Young and Old is good, but the album’s second half is pure bliss. We go from the one-two kick of “Robin” and “High Road” (both beach music ecstasy) to the double Brill Building girl group fix of “Dreaming” and “Take Me to Heaven.” However, the closing cut “Never to Part” is a new high. Set against a rolling rhythm and vintage keyboards, the melody soars. I can’t help but wonder what legendary producer Joe Meek could have done with this track 45 years ago.
BUY IT?: Yes!