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Snow Patrol
Eyes Open
Fiction Records/ Polydor UK

I've got to come clean. After the last Snow Patrol release, Final Straw, I did not feel that there was any way that the band could follow up that epic modern pop masterpiece. Every song on Final Straw was a wonder… glistening melodies and strong lyrics that emphasized rather than detracted from the musical atmosphere. For that record, and the few shining moments from their first two records - and especially for The Reindeer Section - I loved Snow Patrol. But I had no faith in them.

I was wrong. Gary and the boys from Snow Patrol have assembled a collection of songs that once more - without exception - rock. Building on the momentum of Final Straw, Eyes Open is back to back an album filled with strong songs, personal in nature, all backed by even stronger musicianship than I had dared hope. All it takes is one listen to album opener "You're All I Have" to realize that this band still has the magic to make meaningful and important music. This epic piece of contemporary rock cements the band's place among the modern Britpop greats, right alongside Oasis and Embrace. The fast-paced edgy rock of "Hands Open" once more reveals the band's ability to lay down some serious groove and heavy rhythm while maintaining their unique tendency towards tenderness. The enigmatic and passionate "Chasing Cars" is perhaps the strongest sideways love song on Eyes Open, with its resounding chorus of "If I lay here/ if I just lay here/ would you lie with me/ and just forget the world?" and the driving build from a hollow beauty to a full-blown rock anthem. The staccato attack of "Shut your Eyes" is a bit unsettling after the tenuous beauty of "Chasing Cars", but readies the ear for the rocksteady rhythms of the ineffable "It's Beginning To Get To Me", which features some of the finest lyrics on the record, along with some thick string arrangements. "You Could Be Happy" is a bit unsettling the first time you hear it, with the toy piano and odd background noises that accompany such a tremendously sad song… it almost seems as if it belongs on a The Postal Service record, instead of a Snow Patrol album. It's a beautiful song, but in a rather haunting way. "Somehow everything I own smells of you/ and for the tiniest moment it's all not true…"

"Make This Go On Forever" is a dirgey piano song that continues the thread of speaking with a lost lover as it slowly builds to a fantastically glorious crescendo of sound before dying down to a whisper. "Set The Fire To The Third Bar" continues the slow dirge of "Make This Go On Forever", but with a less deliberate direction, and also includes guest vocals provided by the weird voice of Martha Wainwright, which adds a nice extra timbre to the sound without detracting from the power of Gary's own voice. The song is possibly the most haunting of Eyes Open, and recalls mid-80's Kate Bush flavor. "Headlights On Dark Roads" is an epic trip through a dimly lit internal landscape, showing the band's ability to once more transcend their own power for something higher. "Open Your Eyes" returns to what Snow Patrol does best… write highly personally reflective and literate songs that somehow manage to stick in the brain like the best pop music. This song, maybe more than any other from this band, plays upon the gradual build into an epic feel-good anthemic masterpiece that would fit right in on an Embrace record. With an atmospheric and tremulous power, "The Finish Line" ends Eyes Open on a down-tempo note, causing a bit of relaxation to flow back into the listener's soul after the somewhat tense ride of the rest of the album. It's a perfect closing, and one that leaves the ear only wanting for more.

The best news is that not only is there this brand new Snow Patrol record, but the cool indie label World's Fair is re-releasing their first two records, Songs For Polar Bears and When It's All Over We Still Have To Clear Up, which will be the first time they've been available domestically… Hooray! 2006 is all set to be the year of Snow Patrol.

-Embo Blake

Track Listing:
1. You're All I Have
2. Hands Open
3. Chasing Cars
4. Shut Your Eyes
5. It's Beginning To Get To Me
6. You Could Be Happy
7. Make This Go On Forever
8. Set The Fire To The Third Bar
9. Headlights On Dark Roads
10. Open Your Eyes
11. The Finish Line

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