Friday, 24 October 2008

Snow Patrol - A Hundred Million Suns

Snow Patrol used to make music that few people listened to. Their first two albums were lo-fi affairs, often containing ideas for songs that weren't quite fully formed but interesting, edgy and in the case of 'An Olive Grove Facing The Sea' so simply beautiful that I had it played at my wedding. I used to keep telling people about the band and when their album Final Straw was released I had that curious sensation when friends started saying how much they loved it at the same time that I was shrinking away from the slicker, more commercial sound. A Hundred Million Suns sees them continue in this vein.

It's an album filled with tracks for the festival and stadium gigs. Big arm wavers like 'Engines' and 'Take Back The City' and guitar thrashers like 'Disaster Button' and 'Please Just Take These Photos From My Hands'. There's also the odd carrot for those who prefer something a little more challenging. 'Lifeboats' has some melodic touches familiar from earlier work and 'The Golden Floor' does the same whilst playing with the rhythms. The overal tone is rather fraught, a bit like reading a teenager's poetry, which is the appeal for some I guess, but it could have done with the odd quiet moment to break up the onslaught. There are simple joys like 'Set Down Your Glass' but they are few and far between. There's nothing more grand than the album closer, 'The Lightning Strike', a 16 minute opus with plenty of false endings and more like three songs joined together in which producer Jacknife Lee throws everything at us: orchestral backing, big brass and choral singing. It's a confident finish and quite good in places but flirts dangerously with over-indulgence.

If you're a fan of the lighter-waving chorus, big stadium production and enjoyed the latest from Coldplay, Kings of Leon etc then this is for you. If however you were a fan of their earlier output then this album may well be the final straw (but you could wait and see whether Gary Lightbody puts together another Reindeer Section project).


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