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.
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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