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'Wildness' review: After 7-year hiatus, Snow Patrol returns with a gem

Snow Patrol's "Wildness" is on Polydor/Republic Records.

Snow Patrol's "Wildness" is on Polydor/Republic Records. Photo Credit: Polydor/Republic Records

SNOW PATROL

"Wildness"

BOTTOM LINE The “Chasing Cars” band returns after seven years to chase the meaning of life.

Even though Snow Patrol has been on hiatus for the past seven years, the influence of the “Chasing Cars” rockers from Ireland was still felt.

Singer Gary Lightbody wrote songs with Ed Sheeran and One Direction. He co-wrote and sang a duet with Taylor Swift for her “Red” album. Guitarist Johnny McDaid co-wrote Sheeran’s smashes “Shape of You” and “Photograph,” as well as Pink’s hit “What About Us.”

But Lightbody, who has gone public with his battle with depression and alcoholism, felt he needed time away from the band to deal with his issues and find things to write about for Snow Patrol. And he found them for “Wildness” (Polydor/Republic).

“I’m in the ruins, too,” Lightbody sings in the melancholy, but optimistic, piano ballad “What If This Is All the Love You Ever Get?,” which could easily be a new Swift single. “I know the wreckage so well.”

Much of “Wildness” finds Lightbody offering advice to those searching for answers the way he has. To preview the album, Lightbody said it was about “our communion with nature and each other” and “the loss of it.”

The single “Empress” captures that mood best, a future singalong that centers on our similarities, with a chorus of “Friends and foes and princes are all just human in the end . . . This is so damn simple.”

Snow Patrol also looks to break some new ground. “Don’t Give In,” currently climbing the Triple A charts, leans more toward Sheeran-esque acoustic simplicity than the band’s older work, while “A Dark Switch” sounds more like producer Jacknife Lee’s work with that other Irish band, U2, crossed with Talking Heads’ angst.

As Lightbody sings in the falsetto-filled “A Youth Written in Fire,” “This isn’t like the first time any more.” What makes “Wildness” work so well is that Snow Patrol seems ready to chase something new now.

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