Snow Patrol, Eyes Open (A&M, 2006)

I first heard of Snow Patrol while listening to Instant Karma, the compilation of various artists performing John Lennon covers put together by Amnesty International. I had previously told a friend that I thought that Lennon's first solo album was too personal for another performer to cover a song from it and make it work. However, I wound up being extremely impressed by Snow Patrol's cover of "Isolation," the one real standout track on either CD of the compilation. Naturally, I had to find out more about Snow Patrol.

The members of Snow Patrol met at school in Glasgow, Scotland. Gary Lightbody sings and plays guitar, Nathan Connolly also plays guitar, Paul Wilson plays bass, Tom Simpson plays keyboards, and Johnny Quinn plays drums. Their fourth and most recent album Eyes Open has solidified their position as one of the biggest-selling acts in the UK, and they are starting to build a following here as well.

Eyes Open follows a similar pattern to the Vega4 album You and Others that I just reviewed. Most of the album struck me as being a bit predictable and formulaic. Snow Patrol's sound is a bit edgier on the whole than Vega4's, but the band hits its best stride when it tones things down. The moody "Shut Your Eyes" is propelled a simple yet insistently effective guitar riff that runs through most of the song. "Make This Go On Forever" begins as a somber piano ballad, but the chorus just seethes with intensity. Another strong ballad is "Set the Fire to the Third Bar," on which Lightbody duets with Martha Wainwright.

So just like with Vega4, I'm left wishing that Snow Patrol had been willing to follow their own instincts more often and spend less time sounding like a lot of anonymous bands out there right now. The talent is there to make a more consistently strong album than this.

Overall grade: B-

reviewed by Scott

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