November 6, 2008

Snow Patrol: A Thousand Million Suns

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Much like on their previous albums, the songs on Snow Patrol’s A Hundred Million Suns use minimalist rhythm guitar and piano solos to create a sense of visceral intimacy with the listener. With track titles like “If There’s a Rocket Tie Me To It,”and “Please Just Take These Photos From My Hands,” it feels as if lead vocalist Gary Lightbody is pleading with the listener directly, relying on the simplistic beauty of the swelling choruses to defeat any implication of “emo” in his occasionally overblown lyrics. It’s a perfect CD for fall in Ithaca (or in Northern Ireland, where Snow Patrol is based): introspective songs like “Set Down Your Glass” and “Crack the Shutters” inspire us to curl up with our headphones and reflect on the four-chord sequence of possibly-requited love.
This pattern, while endearing, unfortunately becomes repetitive. Despite a strong start with the gritty, upbeat “Take Back the City,” the next six tracks fall into a predictable rhythm, only broken by a few changes in tempo. It’s only in “Disaster Button” that things start getting interesting again; the nameless narrator finally stops all the feet-shuffling and rebels against his own timidity in a rollicking number that sounds like a tribute to Fight Club: “It lifts the roof of the place,” growls Lightbody, “It puts a volt in my step and a grin on my face.” This renewed fascination continues into the final track, “Lightning Strike,” a 16-minute haunting epic which intertwines three different songs into a chilling, vibrant number that single-handedly keeps the album from sliding into coffee shop soundtrack obscurity. Overall, A Hundred Million Suns is an admirable footnote to the success of Eyes Open: while it’s slightly too bland to stand on its own, it makes a lovely addition to every gray November afternoon.