Eyes Open – Snow Patrol

Label: Polydor

There was one thing that got this CD straight out of its case when it arrived, rather than being pushed aside in the hope it might crawl off and degrade in a corner of its own accord. And that was the written legend “featuring Martha Wainwright” sat aside the sweetly titled ‘Set The Fire To The Third Bar’. Because Gary Lightbody is not a bad, or even insignificant, man at his core. He excelled as conductor and heart of the ambitious Celtic indie supergroup Reindeer Section, doing surprisingly well at collating talent and genuine spirit into something exciting and memorable. Making it all the more confusing that his day job just seems to exist in order to catch the dead-wood. Going on his collaborative extra-curricular track record – and considering that alt-country’s classiest, Ms Wainwright, carries credibility around in her purse and is all sorts of delectable – we had understandably high hopes. Hopes that are, incredibly, matched.

It floats on the subtle slight of hand he mastered in his Reindeer days, playing against a vaster backdrop of shifting atmospherics and tumbling unannounced into a cartwheeling momentum that reminds of the Cocteau Twins or Everything But The Girl. Their voices work perfectly together too for delivering pretty couplets. It captures and tends to characteristics that are usually squandered on a Snow Patrol record, made all the more pertinent by the fact that it appears in the middle of a Snow Patrol record. So its defining moment is also the one that drives the knife in. Perhaps it’s that the other tunes have nobody to compete with or impress – they just feel like cold, neglected shells, popped out of the mould to fulfil an order.

The hard thing is trying to work out when and how Snow Patrol stopped being so much fun. Because they didn’t differ so much in the early days, they were never that great, but they packed a clumsy charm and a bottomless glass of fizzy enthusiasm that kind of justified their averageness. Where’s that now? It’s all lifelessly earnest lyrics in a voice you might save for your bank manager that even Danny McNamara might think twice about murmuring badly, guitars that cling far too diligently to the depressingly rigid mid-pace and distorted guitars practically telling themselves to shush it a bit. And you can read what you want (though we’re sure you’ll read right) into that fact that we could only find one track really worth talking about. There is not a moment of ambition on this record, they just concur, over and over, and where’s the fun in that?

Release: Snow Patrol - Eyes Open
Review by:
Released: 23 May 2006