Snow Patrol | Eyes Open (A&M/Fiction/Polydor)

Singer Gary Lightbody's crooning is instantly recognizable and tugs immediately at the heartstrings, making it perfect for broken hearts and sappy montages. (Poor Denny!)

 


Two years removed from their third album, Final Straw, and one year removed from co-founder Mark McClelland's departure from the band, Snow Patrol has returned with Eyes Open. Some of the songs feel like they could have been included on 2004's Final Straw, most noticeably "Chasing Cars," made famous in the Grey's Anatomy season finale. Singer Gary Lightbody's crooning is instantly recognizable and tugs immediately at the heartstrings, making it perfect for broken hearts and sappy montages. (Poor Denny!)

However, Lightbody and Snow Patrol aren't afraid of changing their sound, and "Hands Open," the first American single, is a prime example. More of a straight rocker than the sleepy, Coldplay-esque sound they are known for, it has driving drums and guitar to keep the song moving. They even dip into the spirit of Buddy Holly's "Everyday" on "You Could Be Happy," complete with a light, music box-like glockenspiel and a hushed, sequenced drumbeat as background. Of course, where Holly sang of a hopeful consummation of love, here, Lightbody can only sing about the happiness he had.

What is not so successful is the song "Shut Your Eyes," in which Lightbody pairs with folk-rock singer Martha Wainwright. Martha has one of the most unique and interesting voices in music today, and it's a shame that it isn't used to its full potential here. Except for the chorus, when she really gets to shine, it is a sing-songy waste of three minutes.

Though the band is always fairly strong in the lyrics department, Eyes Open is leaps and bounds above previous efforts. Lightbody is capable of condensing into couplets what many writers take a song to say, and he does it better. Lyrics such as "For once I want to be the car crash/Not just the traffic jam" on "Headlights on Dark Roads" evoke the desire to leave the safety of the gawking masses and effect change, any change, even if it may hurt. On "It's Beginning to Get to Me," Lightbody embodies the lover who realizes he had everything that he needed, but only after he lost it: "You are the only thing that makes sense/Just ignore all this present tense." There is a rather questionable name drop of Sufjan Stevens' song "Chicago" in the lyrics to "Hands Open" that banks on Stevens' song gaining "timeless" stature-either that, or it will only date this album; time will tell.

Eyes Open takes a few listens to take hold, but once its wistful and insightful barbs stick, it's going to be around for a while. Melancholic twentysomethings rejoice; this can be your breakup album for years to come.

 


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