This is my review of the new Snow Patrol Album "Eyes Open" (Released by Polydor Ltd (UK), May 13, 2006) which I hope to have published in the North Shore News - usually a Friday edition paper. I've given it 7 out of 10
It’s easy to think of Snow Patrol as a new British alternative band and to mistake the freshly released Eyes Open as the second release to follow up a successful debut record. Though it’s true their 2004 album Final Straw quickly passed over the North American music radar screen with the breakthrough beacons “Run”, “Chocolate” and “How To Be Dead”, this Celtic band has been in the hopper for ten years. Even with such honest, college-indie beginnings, Eyes Open is about to open the eyes and ears of many this side of the proverbial pond.
Glasgow based Snow Patrol’s commander is Gary Lightbody, born in Belfast in 1976, he formed the three-man band in 1997 while attending university in Scotland. Four albums later, old-friend and super talent Paul Wilson replaces the band’s co-founder/bassist, Mark McClelland, and a new five-member line-up emerges with multi-instrumental talents.
Listening to UK Internet stations over the past month, I was already prepped for track one, “You’re All I Have”; a catchy, upbeat pop song that tags track two “Hands Open”. Both are sure to be successful singles for Snow Patrol here in Canada and back in the UK. The album presents a dual personality with excited fast moving songs and then mature, reflective ballads that perfectly demonstrate Lightbody’s songwriting ability and vocal talent.
This peculiar transition from upbeat to sullen works in their favor, as a wide net is cast. Clearly there is intelligence here and we may still be surprised with the depth of confessional lyrics. A definite highlight is the featured vocals of Martha Wainwright, younger sister to musician Rufus Wainwright. Sounding like the missing link between Kate Bush and Tori Amos, Wainwright provides a haunting element to Gary Lightbody’s immensely evocative song “Set The Fire To The Third Bar”. Then the short and sweet, “You Could Be Happy” is simply lovely, with a poignancy that is complete with a tinkling music box. The track “Chasing Cars” is pure and may creep over to radio waves.
If you are a fan of Final Straw, you’ll notice the shift in the sound of Eyes Open. With alluring layers of melodies, blending violins, cello, piano and background choirs, it is nevertheless clear that mainstay Gary Lightbody holds court to this band as his vocals are forefront. As Snow Patrol makes its way to the mainstream, we can only hope they can hold on to a trace of their humble, independent charm.